UPDATED 14:19 EST / MARCH 10 2009

Boston Startup Scene – Serious "Out-Migration" Already Happened

image A story today caught my attention. Post titled "Paul Graham on Why Boston Should Worry About Its Future as a Tech Hub—Says Region Focuses On Ideas, Not Startups".

The biggest difference between Boston and Silicon Valley is the way
startup culture pervades the Valley. The Valley is for startups what LA is for movies. It’s the main thing people care about here. Boston is for startups what New York is for movies. People do make some movies there, but it’s not the city’s main focus.

A lot of other things follow from this. The startup community is much larger in the Valley, large enough that it makes a qualitative difference. … Another difference is that because the Valley cares so much about startups, people here are always half a step ahead. All the lawyers know what the latest standard terms are for various types of deals. The investors are less frightened by new ideas, because the ideas are less new to them. The founders feel less lonely, because there are three other groups of guys in the same building starting startups.

There is a big difference in students. Stanford students are all thinking about startups. MIT students mostly think of getting jobs at Microsoft or Google.

There’s not so much difference among entrepreneurs, because they, by definition, have already crossed the line into thinking a lot about startups. But founders in the Valley are probably more confident.

Boston has no early stage Internet startup MoJo. It needs to get it’s swagger back. I have to agree with Paul in his comments. I left Boston (an area that I love, grew up in, and went to school in) to Silicon Valley.

He hits all the points. Boston just isn’t friendly to internet investments. Even back when I did my first paid search startup in 1996-97, I was ridiculed for thinking differently – paid search worked out well.

I would love to see Boston change to be more open and rewarding toward entrepreneurs especially early stage. There is a ton of activity there, but there is a serious "out migration" issue when it comes to the quality entrepreneurs and Internet startups. They all go to Silicon Valley for validation and community. The fact is that entrepreneurs want to be with peers and colleagues, and Silicon Valley is where they go.

I do miss Boston, but I miss the early stage swagger – it just isn’t there anymore.

I’d love to hear feedback to the contrary, but in this case I believe that Paul G is correct in his candid assessment.


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