Silicon Valley is Hollywood for Startups

I watched Social Network for the second time today, and it got me thinking. Entrepreneurs are no different than struggling actors. The end goal for an actor or entrepreneur is not to land a high paying job at some respected company, but to become rich and famous. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to create something new and exciting that hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of people will use. If you are an actor, your goal is to get on TV or the big screen and be seen by millions of people.

We’re all working towards the same goal and yet everyone has a different approach. However, We all can agree on one point: You have a higher probability of succeeding if you surround yourself with the smartest people in your industry. The more connections you have, the better chance you have of getting found. Silicon Valley and Hollywood have a large concentration of industry talent all in one small area, and this is why they are arguably the most importent and influential areas in the world. Yes, the world.

What other place can you get a more dramatic scene when you finally tell your parents: “Mom, Dad: I’ve decided to quit school & work, and move to hollywood to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an actor”. Change Hollywood with “Chicago, New York, London, Tokyo, Paris” and it just doesn’t have the same effect. No matter how much you love your city, it’s just not as influential as Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, other cities ARE important too and you can become rich and famous by starting a company outside of silicon valley such as Boston, Chicago or New York, and there have been plenty instances of actors outside of Hollywood that have gone on to become rich and famous. But that’s not my point. There are no other areas in the world that are more influential and important than Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Period.

Silicon Valley is home to the most brilliant entrepreneurs and technology companies who have impacted people’s lives around the world. Google, Facebook & Apple are a rock throw from each other. Where else in the world can you say three companies of that magnitude are located so close to each other? Better yet, imagine if they all disappeared right now. Wouldn’t things be a whole lot worse?

Hollywood is home to some of the most influential actors, agents, producers and studios along with movies & music that are watched and heard around the world. They control America’s media, and arguably have a huge impact on international media as well. Media is important and goes hand in hand with technology. If president Obama shut off our internet AND TV, you can guarantee there will be mass riots.

Speaking of riots, technology & media were part of the reason people in Egypt were able to organize protests efficiently and succeed in their mission to overthrow Mubarak. It wasn’t the people of Silicon Valley or Hollywood that were part of this, but you can’t look past their role as an enabler, and you can’t look past the importance of these two areas and their impact across the world.

I would love to be proven wrong on this issue. If you think there is a more important region, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Side note: I am a fairly well travelled individual who has been to most of the major international cities except East Asia. I also live in Chicago. Go Figure.

You can follow the author, Robbie Abed on twitter @robbieab and The Startup Foundry on twitter @startupfoundry.