The east coast vs west coast story about consumer start-up companies has been addressed many times.
But for those of us (entrepreneurs and VCs) living in NYC/Boston - we should continue to ask ourselves this question over and over again.
Scott Kirsner, former writer the Boston Globe, spent a few years in SF and just returned to Boston. His article today revisits this topic. He interviews my partner Todd, my good friend Nabeel and others.
Scott himself makes this observation upon making his return to MA
"Having just boomeranged back to Cambridge after spending two years in San Francisco, the lack of consumer tech activity here is startling to me -- it's like going from a noisy, hot, crowded bar to another across the street where the bartender has plenty of time to wash glasses and gab with the three regulars perched on stools."
There are plenty of good points in Scott's article but I very much disagree with an entrepreneur named Matt Douglas who says:
"The mentality of East Coast investors is 'Show me revenue first, and then we'll talk again,' " says Douglas.
This couldn't be farther from the case. I know that almost all of our companies (most of them series a) didn't have any revenue when we made the initial investment. And we aren't alone. Union Square Ventures, General Catalyst, Polaris, IDG Ventures, Bessemer, Matrix and others are doing the same. And all of these east coast firms are active locally and yet all of them are investing in the west coast too. Pre-revenue is not a show stopper. They/we are just trying to invest in the very best companies. Regardless of their location.
I lived in SF for 10 years. I've been in Boston since 2001. I've been an entrepreneur most of my career (both coasts) and now I'm an investor. And I believe we do have a cultural problem in the northeast.
Both VCs and entrepreneurs are guilty.
In particular we need to build huge, standalone companies in the northeast. We need more independent, large-scale companies in gaming, consumer web services, consumer products and even consumer electronics.
It's going to happen. I believe that. These days I'm seeing super Boston/NYC entrepreneurs taking on enormous ideas. Some are part of our portfolio and some aren't. And I'm super excited about that.