June 2, 2006

The Key Ingredients for a "Great City"

Paul Graham ruminates on the essence of a technology hub:
I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. They're the limiting reagents in the reaction that produces startups, because they're the only ones present when startups get started. Everyone else will move.

Do you really need the rich people? Wouldn't it work to have the government invest in the nerds? No, it would not. Startup investors are a distinct type of rich people. They tend to have a lot of experience themselves in the technology business. This (a) helps them pick the right startups, and (b) means they can supply advice and connections as well as money. And the fact that they have a personal stake in the outcome makes them really pay attention.

Bureaucrats by their nature are the exact opposite sort of people from startup investors. The idea of them making startup investments is comic. It would be like mathematicians running Vogue-- or perhaps more accurately, Vogue editors running a math journal.
Grahams words are a must read for local politicians. Madison's (Wisconsin) biggest challenge with respect to new business development is it's parochialism. Living in San Francisco years ago, I was impressed by the general willingness to try new things and take risks. We have a world class University, lots of bright citizens but not so many people willing to take financial and career risks. Posted by James Zellmer at June 2, 2006 8:35 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
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