Elad Gil recently published a little tweet storm about industry cities, multiple people sent it to me (probably to get me annoyed about his views on remote work). But I'm not annoyed, it got me thinking about our views on success instead.

If anybody hasn't seen the tweet storm I'm talking about, in summary the views expressed are:

  • Industry towns emerge in many industries due to critical mass of supply, money and demand. Hollywood is one of them. Tech is no different (SF).
  • You could make a movie or build a tech company anywhere, but maybe you shouldn't.
  • Most ambitious people are based in industry towns, key point for success.
  • Distribution means more processes early, disadvantage in comparison to people in clusters.

To boil down the argument even more, I'd say the key element is To be successful, you should be where the critical mass is.

I could disagree, write a few paragraphs about how being inter-connected allows us to create anything from anywhere, how Netflix isn't holding their film operations in Hollywood and neither is Tech only thriving in one city. But I agree, in the way that Elad defines success, a cluster is probably the place to be.

Bigger, better, everything.

When people sent this to me, they didn't consider that the definition of success differs from person to person. I like what's going on in the tech cluster (mostly), I am amazed when I'm there, but I'd never live there, because I have other values. I think this is also the reason why people are getting outraged, they project their own values onto Elad's views.

I tend to value my quality of life over being filthy f-ing rich, and that's fine. I would like to have a good chance of being financially well-off at all time, over having a shot at becoming a billionaire after a hunger streak. I'd prefer a $10MM exit of a company I own 100% of, over a $1bn exit of a company I own 10% off. That's fine too. I'd like to be financially free, live in a good apartment, don't only life to work. I value creativity, relationships, good food and experiences over constant hustle.

But that's not the case for anybody. Some people love the hectic lifestyle in NY, that changes the values of people going there, others like the laid-back lifestyle in Southern California and South America. Europeans tend to focus on social structures and work-life-balance, so the culture in tech changes there too. That doesn't mean that this is worse, it just means that it is different. SF is all about working, hustling and "making it big". That's success there, but the definition of success is in the eye of the beholder.

Obviously, there was a lot of other outrage in the same thread. So much, that Elad backtracked a little bit.

Talented people are everywhere, but the ones that look for the Silicon Valley lifestyle, the big multi-billion dollar exits and the fame are going to be drawn towards Silicon Valley too, I agree with Elad on that one.

Other tech hubs need to find their own culture to succeed. I already see a range of remote companies who have entirely different values than their SF counterparts, the tech scenes I know in Paris, London, Berlin and Stockholm are way different too. They will attract a different kind of talent, a different tribe, different people, different investors, and I'm happy to see a time someday where not everyone compares themselves to SV vanity metrics like money raised and size of exit.