What's Happened to Silicon Valley? (Part 5)


If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic about Silicon Valley’s future, we found one in a cool old building above the streets of San Francisco.  There, workers at a start-up company called Scrapblog plug away, having recently hauled themselves, their loved ones, and their belongings across the country.

Scrapblog is led by CEO Jill Braff, a veteran of the tech industry, and a leader who knows where the action is.  “This is still the heart of technology,” Braff says.  “We feel that we’re really onto something.”  And Silicon Valley is where she, and her company has to be.  Yes, Braff admits, her employees are “feeling poorer” after the move.  After all, houses cost more here, gas costs more here, even coffee costs more here.  But as a start-up looking for funding, hiring new employees, and determined to be part of the dot com culture, the move makes sense.

It also shows that while Silicon Valley has its problems (see the previous four entries), there are intangibles that can’t be found anywhere else.  Talent, Universities, VC funding (close to 40 percent of all Venture funding in 2009 went to Valley-based companies), to name a few.  Yes, there are other “Silicon Valleys” popping up across the country, but they’re struggling as well, and they don’t have near the sheer number of companies, or the reputation, that we have here.

Scrapblog, which lets you take your photos and easily create cards, pamphlets, even entire books with them, is a modern start-up:  Lean, funded, and smart with its money.  No giant ice sculptures to be found anywhere.  Just talented people working away to bring in new customers, while forging relationships with tech heavy hitters (and neighbors) like Facebook and Google.  Bucking another trend, the company is hiring.  There’s still room in that cool building for more desks, and they hope to fill those desks soon.

Everyone always asks, what’s the next Google, or the next Apple?  Who knows?  The guess here is that the next “big thing” is being brewed up somewhere in a garage.  But even before we get to that, we should be grateful that there are still companies like Scrapblog, and executives like Jill Braff, willing to invest their money, and confidence, in Silicon Valley’s future.

Scott is always looking for optimistic stories.  You can find him on Twitter:  @scottbudman.