The Valley Battles: Content Vs. Technology

August 9, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Last night I was having drinks with Brian (founder of newroo), Kareem, Chartreuse & Joe and I realized something. There is a turf war between Los Angeles (The Valley) and Silicon Valley.

brian kareem noah

Chartreuse (Prince) understands this clearly. He is from New Orleans but has an LA attitude. In his own words he “knows the motherfuckers on the streets.” I think he is right on. The people in Silicon Valley focus on creating the ultimate technology. Los Angeles focuses on the content, good enough technology and creating products for the masses.


So I put these questions out there:

Do you think MySpace would have succeeded if it was started at Stanford?

Do you think Google would have come out of USC?

These companies did well because of the environments they are in. MySpace became successful for two things from being in Los Angeles:

1- Hot women.
Trendsetters. There are plenty in Los Angeles. This is LA to me:

hot la woman

This is a Silicon Valley Girl:

silicon valley girl

2- Hot bands. A ton of great bands have come out of Los Angeles. MySpace got them on their site and promoted the hell out of it.

I talked with a friend recently who wanted to move up North to Silicon Valley. Bad move, he is a content based business. The movies are down here, the music is here and all things with trendyness are born in Los Angeles.

Silicon Valley is blinded by AJAX, propriatary technology and tech meetups. The Valley has amazing programmers but is not always aligned with the rest of the world.

I love Silicon Valley and am not knocking it at all. I just wanted to point out the differences and for people to realize where you build your business matters.

From the great words of Ray Croc and McDonald’s: “Location, Location, Location”

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16 responses to “The Valley Battles: Content Vs. Technology

  1. sharpshoot Reply

    Wow, that was pretty interesting. In London, there’s loads of content i.e. arts, movies, bands and not enough tech. But the Tech is catching up. Interesting times at the moment…I guess last fm are indicative of this fusion.

  2. Eric A. Reply

    Do you really think location matters that much with web sites. Look what 37signals is doing in chicago. And their just one example. Location doesn’t matter, except for the parties. Which means that LA probably has Silicon beat there.

    By the way, that quote is really out of date. Come on, the web is location neutral (language aside). Do you think the brazilian kids uploading videos give a crap that youtube is based wherever they are. No.

  3. noah kagan Reply


    That was a nice strong jab to my side:) Anyways, I think you are right that there are many exceptions to the rule. However, for certain companies they will do better in certain areas. You can even look at Facebook. There were at least 2-3 other college social networks that were around. Facebook succeeded initially for a few main reasons

    1- you had to have the .edu
    2- it was ONLY at the ivy league schools
    3- it was sent on many mailing list

    do you think it would have been as successful if it was for community college kids first and Harvard last? also, having Zuck/Dustin attend Harvard I know helped tremendously.

    Regardless, I think many companies are being created for techies in Silicon Valley and not necessarily the average person. LA thinks like the average person and their “competitive advantage” is trendsetting. Just some stuff to think about.

  4. Nick Gavronsky Reply

    Interesting post. Being based in Miami, there is not much start up movement here in the internet/tech industry, but I think Miami is going to start growing a lot in regards to entrepreneurial spirit.

  5. will Reply

    living it (LA) right now. . . it is that different. . . people here believe whole heartedly that business is done through “deals” while the bay area people believe in technology, business models, barriers to entry . . . etc. . . in many ways its much much more “elementary” out here. . . work hard, bust your ass, make important friends, and cut some deals. . . and let those relationships be your main asset rather than something more “innovation” focused. . .

  6. wen-wen Reply

    This is the best post you have ever written, and its completely right. If you want a fun cool content driven company, LA is the place to be. If you want a company with good technology, silicon valley cuts it. Oh I am so jealous… I need to get back to LA!!

  7. Eric A. Reply

    Yea, I wasn’t necessarily picking apart your argument. LA might very well be better than Silicon. By pointing out facebook you kind of make my point. You don’t need to be in california to be making dough. Facebook was started on the east coast, with no VC money. I kind of see VC as being a crutch. Bootstrapping is the game I play, and its much more interesting. Constraints breed creativiy, and thats why microsoft spends $6 billion on R&D, and they launch mediocre products, and Google launches engineers 20% time projects, and gets rave reviews.

  8. Peter Caputa Reply


    My partner and I always say that we’d be floating in dough right now if we started our business in a major city.

    On the other hand, figuring out how to scale our business in a small US City has taught us a lot of lessons on how to do it when there aren’t limitless opportunities. That has shaped us in ways that will be very lucrative long term.

    Environment might have an affect on the way people approach thier business. But, I think certain people succeed regardless of location.

  9. Ari Mir Reply

    I am so glad I came across this post. For the past few months I have found myself extremely frustrated as a tech entrepreneur in Los Angeles. There has not been a day I have not wished I lived up North. I don’t have access to as many VC’s, bloggers, engineers, etc. This article hits home even more because I am a USC alumni and I would love to think Google would take an interest in me because of my abilities, but I know they would most likely hold a prejudice against me because of my educational background.

    BUT I am very proud to admit MySpace was an L.A./USC creation. As an entrepreneur focused on mobile semantic software, I am confident L.A. will provide me with the best platform.

  10. Noah Reply

    Damn straight. Culture and enterprise are symbiotic. If it wasn’t, then why would we have the drawn lines we have today? It’s not because people didn’t have a choice before, it’s because they *did*… and movie people chose California just as the investors chose New York. The culture supported them.

    In any endeavor, you need passionate people to seed and support it, and you find that in places where people naturally have some interest in seeing it succeed — it’s your home-court advantage.