General Question

Mtl_zack's avatar

Why is San Francisco the main hub for software/internet developers?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6751points) May 29th, 2009

It seems that so many startups base themselves in San Francisco and also all the main conferences such as WWDC and I/O are usually located there too. Even Ben and Andrew base Fluther there!

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10 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Silicon valley.

YARNLADY's avatar

The founders of the two major computer search engines, David Filo and Jerry Yang – Yahoo, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Google, all graduated from Stanford. With their companies and others like them, computer professionals from all over the country flocked to the Bay Area.

They were relative newcomers to Silicon Valley, which started up with the military complex and it’s need for innovation in the electronics field. The venture capitalists (investors)were quick to get in on the ground floor with the techonology firms, and the whole thing grew and grew. See this excellent article in wikipedia for more information on this subject.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

What @YARNLADY said.

We are just that awesome. Yay Area for life. :)

jrpowell's avatar

Well it goes back a lot further since Apple and HP started there. Woz (The brain behind Apple) worked on making calculators for HP.

edit :: pretty sure Intel started there too.

cwilbur's avatar

Silicon Valley’s dominance predates Google and Yahoo—it goes back as far as Hewlett-Packard.

Basically, Stanford University and Berkeley have very good computer science departments, and both of them fostered a culture of innovation. This meant that a lot of companies started with students at those schools, and they stayed in the area. Once there were a few tech companies there, there were significant benefits to other companies starting there—the pool of knowledge and people to network meant it was worth the high cost of living.

Something similar happened around Boston, with MIT and Harvard, and all the high-tech companies around the Route 128 corridor, but it never reached the same level of dominance that Silicon Valley did, probably because the Boston climate is less pleasant.

YARNLADY's avatar

@cwilbur As I said Google and Yahoo were relative newcomers. I had completely forgotten about Berkeley, : – ). Your comment about the weather is right on the money. I suspect that is one of the main factors, along with the excellent Universities.

jrpowell's avatar

People don’t want to drag kids out of their schools and move the family for a job.

1. Finish school and get a job in the bay area.
2. Start a family.
3. Start a business in the bay area.

I see the same thing in Portland. Intel is big here.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Wow this is all great information. I was just curious about this, but I see that it has a kinda deep history. It would be an interesting subject to write a research paper about.

galileogirl's avatar

It didn’t start in San Francisco. The modern electronics industry grew up near Stanford University, south of San Francisco in what is now known as Silicon Valley. After WWII there was an influx of students due to the GI Bill and to expand Stanford’s Engineering department land was leased to develop an industrial park for high tech companies. The first tenant was Varian (my husband’s employer) which later developed computerized gas chromatography. Stanford grads William Hewlett and David Packard also opened their first company there. In the same area were military bases that were working on electronic research. During the 50’s and 60’s other companies gravitated toward the valley and it’s labor pool. The first transistors using silicon in semiconductors came from a company in the valley and with the growth of the electronic industry silicon semiconductors took off.

Where there is a burgeoning electronics industry, a programming industry will follow as well as the internet related companies.

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were locals who got their first jobs at HP and the game godfather Nolan Bushnell had immigrated from Utah to be a CA hippie when he moved to the valley and started Atari. By the 90’s it was almost the only place to be with the founding of E-Bay and YAHOO! as well as the internet bubble tht burst in 1999. BTW selling eggs on the internet was a bad idea.

San Francisco was the nearest big city and financial center where these start-up companies looked for venture capital. As in the case of many big cities, towns in the metro area identify themselves as the city. In 1970 the world might not know where Cupertino, Santa Clara and Palo Alto were but they did recognize San Francisco.

rottenit's avatar

Do all software developers also like to wear ass-less chaps and have handlebar moustaches?

JOKE! <- Not serious LOL

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