LA vs the world: How LA's tech scene measures up

by John Siegel
August 2, 2016
Because of the high demand for talented employees, many tech companies in Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston have trouble retaining talent. But as the tech scene continues to grow, companies are finding their location is as much of a asset as more traditional benefits. 
For years now, the Hollywood lifestyle — or, really, the potential of living a Hollywood lifestyle — has brought millions to Southern California from around the world. Even though the entertainment industry in LA will always be front and center, the rapid expansion of the tech industry has companies considering Los Angeles for more than just the weather. 
For Hollywood-based Chuz, an app founded in London and eventually relocating to LA, the rapid growth of the tech community was the reason for moving headquarters.
“The main reason we decided to move to LA was the fact that Silicon Beach was exploding,” said co-founder and CEO Eirini Schlosser. “I felt LA was much more diverse. In Silicon Valley, if you present a problem 90 percent of people will solve it in the same way, and think that they’re innovative.”
Perhaps because there are so many transplants living in the city, Schlosser said she believes Silicon Beach is friendlier than the tech scenes in Silicon Valley and New York City, particularly in regards to diversity.
“It’s so much more open to new people and different types of people trying out startups,” she said. “I feel like the women startup scene in LA is flourishing much more in LA than New York and Silicon Valley. I find female entrepreneurs way more often, and it’s a much more supportive community.
Yinon Ravid, co-founder of financial services app Albert, spent years working in NYC’s financial industry. He said he believes the diversity of LA tech’s talent is also something that sets it apart from other tech communities in the country.
“I worked in financial services in New York for a long time, and you’re really just surrounded by people that work in financial services,” he said. “In LA, it feels very diverse, and I really think that LA is the ideal place in the country to build a consumer product." 
VNTANA co-founder and CEO Ashley Crowder echoed Schlosser’s comments regarding the community’s friendliness. The augmented reality company was founded in Santa Monica before recently moving to a spacious new office in Van Nuys.
“LA is still growing really quickly, but it’s still small enough where people still want to help everyone,” she said. “It’s very positive in that way because everyone wants to community to do well.”
As someone who relocated to LA to start a business as Silicon Beach was really getting started, Scorebig co-founder Joel Milne found the community to be separated by LA County’s size. In the years since then, however, Milne said he believes the community had to shrink before it could really start growing in the right direction.
“I think the coalescence around one area has really helped SB flourish in terms of drawing interest and maturing as a legitimate tech center,” he said. “In regards to a VC presence, I think Los Angeles lags behind NYC, Boston and SF in that regard, but if you look at the quality of the companies, and the ability to attract talent, I think LA is way ahead of NYC and Boston.”
While plenty of people have, and will, take a job based on company culture or whether it's the right fit, LA's geographical location, no matter how many stereotypes come with it, really benefits the companies looking to attract high-level talent.
"When I was starting my last company, we met with the different cities economic development departments to understand what the local taxes were," said Milne. "Culver City and West Hollywood offered us a bunch of incentives to move there, but when we met with Santa Monica, their attitude was, ‘yeah, our incentives are the beach.’ It was a funny comment, but I remember to this day that it’s somewhat true: If you can have a job where you live by the beach and the weather is perfect all the time, why would you work anywhere else?"
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