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The Battle Over “Silicon Beach”

Influential Los Angeles venture capitalist Mark Suster was sitting in a meeting of LA tech power players one week in March, with one agenda item: Get rid of the term “Silicon Beach.”

Get it off the mayor’s office innovation reports. Get it off the startup-networking websites. Get it off the t-shirts. Get it off the bumper stickers.

I called Suster and said I’d like to write something about Silicon Beach and about that meeting, organized by the LA County Economic Development Corporation to reshape the way people see LA tech. READ MORE

Silicon Beach emerges as, what else?, a tech-heavy stretch on the West Side

Snapchat. Tinder. SpaceX. Riot Games, creator of League of Legends.

These companies are part of the reason Southern California’s tech ecosystem is drawing some attention away from Silicon Valley. Much of that attention is concentrated on a stretch from Venice up to Santa Monica known colloquially as Silicon Beach, where Google and Twitter have set down L.A. roots.

“The tech scene seemed to explode during the last three years with the rapid emergence of accelerators, incubators and co-working environments on the West Side,” said Scott MacKinnon, vice president of operations at Technical Connections, an L.A.-based IT staffing firm founded in 1984, long before the Internet took off. “Suddenly you had scores of companies springing up every 90 days, looking for tech talent. Some have made it big, and some are gone, but the entrepreneurial bug had bit.” READ MORE

Anything is Possible, Never Say Never: The 18 Most Ridiculous Startup Ideas That Eventually Became Successful

Even the most well-known venture capitalists have startups they regret passing on.  For John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, it was Twitter. For Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, it was Airbnb, the home-rental website that’s now worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

“We made the classic mistake that all investors make,” Wilson recalled in a blog post lamenting the blunder. “We focused too much on what they were doing at the time and not enough on what they could do, would do, and did do.”

It’s hard to blame him. After all, a lot of successful companies sounded stupid when they first launched — see: Rap Genius — and the vast majority of new businesses flop, sometimes leaving investors with heavy losses.

But before you write off a fledgling firm, always keep in mind that you never know. READ MORE