Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Silicon Valley

Here is Nicholas Lemann writing about Google in a recent New Yorker:
What about the emphasis on that ninja-attracting culture? That’s especially difficult to transport outside a tight radius from Mountain View. One of the ironies of the tech economy, duly noted by Schmidt and Rosenberg, is that while the products and the users are geographically untethered, the businesses that supply them are increasingly clustered in one physical location, Silicon Valley. That’s because of the unusual, and apparently non-replicable, infrastructure of support there: the Stanford engineering school, the Sand Hill Road venture-capital firms, the angel investors, the talent pool of coders and engineers, the technical-infrastructure providers. First-rate coders are in high demand, and employers, including Google, have to deliver special working conditions and high-performing stock options in order to keep them. The ability to attract talent has a much bigger economic payoff in Silicon Valley than it does in most industries; conversely, the rest of the world is littered with the remains of attempts to create the next Silicon Valley, complete with smart creatives.
There is untertheredness and there is clustering. We should think about location choice. Location and land are inputs in production and must be carefully evaluated -- just like all other inputs. All the players are involved in complex trades -- of things and ideas.  There is a complex and profound choice problem. Given the site choices available at any moment, we trust that entrepreneurs will make good choices, ones that poise them to succeed.  There is nothing static about this. There are many moving pieces and continuous re-evaluation. Land use planners cannot do this for them and must be prepared to be flexible. 

Ed Glaeser even suggests this: "Primary Idea: Eliminating Local Land Use Powers." It's worth reading.