- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that if he were launching a new company, he wouldn’t do it in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- The San Francisco Bay Area is the home of companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook itself – but is also experiencing a housing crisis amid a skyrocketing cost of living in the region.
- When Facebook first started, Zuckerberg says he had to come to Silicon Valley to find the capital and resources he needed to scale up the company.
- Now, Zuckerberg says that social media makes it easier for startups anywhere to find their audience, and it’s easy to get the servers you need to power a new app via cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services.
- Not only is it more feasible to start up a company outside Silicon Valley, but there are advantages to doing so, he said: “There’s a lot of advantages to building a company that is not in such a monoculture.”
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Mark Zuckerberg has a message for budding entrepreneurs considering following his footsteps and moving to Silicon Valley to launch build a startup: Don’t bother.
In an interview on-stage at a conference in Utah on Friday, the Facebook CEO said he wouldn’t launch a new company in the San Francisco Bay Area, long the tech capital of the United States – home to titans like Apple, Google, and Facebook itself.
“I like the Bay Area, so I’m not super negative on it, but I do think on balance if I was starting from scratch now, I would not pick the Bay Area,” Zuckerberg said.
It’s a resounding rejection of the region by one of its most famous success stories, at a time of already-mounting debate over high living costs, income inequality, and other dysfunction in the region.
He said that when he first moved to Silicon Valley, he was 19 years old, and “didn’t know anything about building a company,” and that “at the time a lot of the tools for building a company weren’t as built out as they are now.”
Now, though, he said, social media makes it easier for a new company to find their customers, and adding new servers to power a new app or website is just a matter of renting capacity from the Amazon Web Services cloud platform.
“Back then it was a lot more complicated,” Zuckerberg said.
He says that it was difficult for Facebook to get the servers and data centers it needed to establish itself, let alone find the necessary venture capital amid the downturn in the tech sector following the dot-com bust. He had to come to Silicon Valley to find the solutions to all those problems, he said: “It really felt like it was going to be impossible.”
Things have changed, though, and the conditions are right for more startups to appear in more places.
“I think the world is in a different place now,” Zuckerberg said. “I think the infrastructure exists for people to do stuff like this in more places.”
Furthermore, he said that it’s not only easier to go outside Silicon Valley, but that there are now upsides to doing so.
“There’s a lot of advantages to building a company that is not in such a monoculture,” he said, adding that “Silicon Valley being an all-tech town there’s not as much diversity of how people think about things as you’d like, in a lot of ways.”
Zuckerberg is only the latest, but certainly the most high-profile, tech exec to cast doubt on the future of Silicon Valley as the tech hub of the world. Last year, Reddit cofounder and investor Alexis Ohanian said that “no one in their right mind” would base a new startup entirely in San Francisco, citing the region’s prohibitively high cost of living as a major barrier to doing business and recruiting talent.
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