Post-Pandemic Silicon Valley Will Be Everywhere and Nowhere
As Gordon Ramsey has been known to say, “thank f*ck for that”
It’s a fluke that one of the richest companies on the planet happens to be headquartered in Seattle. Microsoft was founded in New Mexico and moved to Washington because of Paul Allen. Allen wanted to live closer to his family in Seattle, where Bill Gates also hailed from, so the pair packed up shop and headed back home to the Pacific Northwest. This decision changed the course of history and technology forever.
Gates didn’t need to be in the valley to start Microsoft, and the same is true for other entrepreneurs. Thanks to the ubiquity of the internet and the decentralized nature of today’s online funding portals, entrepreneurs across the country possess the ability to secure folding money anywhere with wifi, avoid Silicon Valley and dodge devilish angel investors. With online portals facilitating cash flow across the country, it means that Microsoft’s origin story can be duplicated anywhere and everywhere across America. This is encouraging news because the post pandemic economy can’t be sustained by a handful of unicorns *maybe* emerging from the valley. Remember? Small businesses account for 99.7% of all employers in the US, online access to cash injections will be crucial for economic recovery, stability and eventual prosperity.
Shed Silicon Valley deadweight
If Hollywood could be steadfastly relied upon for one thing, it’s illuminating the complexities of shuffling lots of money around. Gangsters, governments and corporations have made us realize that while wealth is freeing, assets can be a biiiiit of an albatross. Apple’s cash reserve clocks in at roughly $200B, whereas both Google and Microsoft each have close to $100B in cashola on hand. That’s a lot of concentrated power in one spot. These monoliths are tethered to the valley, whether they like it or not.
Compare the valley’s lumbering giants with the unencumbered startups and firms strewn throughout the country. These companies certainly don’t have giant buckets of cash at their disposal, but they have agility, originality — and now, more money, thanks to the SEC’s decision to increase funding caps on Reg. CF to $5M from $1.07M, and even more for Reg. A+. With vaccine rollout underway and a vague sense of normalcy on the horizon, there couldn’t be a better time to let small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their speed limit on the highway.
Finally, some radical innovation
The valley seems to operate on one deeply entrenched business model: prioritize acquisition over innovation. As such, trying to quickly pivot is like trying to make a sharp turn in an RV. The 99.7% of small businesses across the country don’t have the luxury of buying all of their competitors; instead they retain the plucky innovative spirit that the valley was once known for. The money and power concentrated in valley tech monoliths operates as a gravitational pull similar to a black hole, drawing in and disappearing ingenuity in its periphery.
The pandemic and lack of federal relief aid sent small businesses and entrepreneurs scrambling for alternative funding sources, like equity crowdfunding, which is finally getting the attention it deserves, at a time when American businesses need the most support. This bodes well for radical innovation because the folks with the best ideas finally have access to resources, as the majority of founders lack the money and social capital necessary to try their hand at securing funding in the valley. And if Mohammed can’t travel to the mountain, we all lose because the revolutionary startup ideas don’t make it to market — only the ideas from founders with sufficient connections and capital do.
The stars have aligned
Before the internet even existed, Bill Gates and Paul Allen demonstrated that the entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t need to be based in a particular location to succeed. Thanks to the widespread connectivity of today’s internet and online funding platforms, the next Microsoft is lurking anywhere and everywhere across the US — no garage necessary this time. It *only* took a pandemic for diverse founders and their creative business ideas to secure access to funding outside the concentrated power in the valley.
Guess Beyoncé was right when she sang: “You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.” Although I wish she had said, ‘a black Jim Simons’, I would have raised a glass for that one. Nonetheless, the countdown is on for 2021!
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