Making It Rain in LA: A Brief Look at the Growth & Culture of Silicon Beach
For most of us on this side of the pond, Los Angeles conjures up the image of glamorous movie stars striding confidently along a white sandy beach, the iconic Hollywood Sign visible in the distance. In recent years, however, the city has had a new claim to fame. It has emerged as America’s (and perhaps the world’s) new rising star of technological and digital innovation. Over the past decade, entrepreneurs and tech engineers have flocked to the west side of the city in order to flex their creative muscles and implement their digital visions. The focal point of this trend is an area nicknamed Silicon Beach, which runs from Venice to Santa Monica, the sunny hotbed where we set up our American office. Since the early 2000s, startup tech companies have been sprouting up all over the place but it was the arrival of search titan, Google Inc. in November 2011 that cemented the area’s reputation as the new search and social hotspot. This section of map highlights the concentration of digital agencies and technology-related companies within the area. Our new American office – located at the dark-blue pin – is slap-bang in the middle of it all.
LA’s proficiency in almost everything creative and arty is well known and it is perhaps this endless pool of creative talent, the hordes of engineering graduates to emerge from local universities every year, along with the city’s deep pockets and investment potential that contribute to the location’s popularity. Additionally, there are an impressive amount of accelerator and incubator companies within the area, ready to provide assistance, resources and funding to fledgling tech firms they think will go the distance. The volume of these companies is impressive. This infographic shows us some of the more prominent accelerator companies in our area.
The glamour of Hollywood and the anonymous nerdery of the tech industry, only ten years ago seemed worlds apart. The surge in power and popularity of the Internet and digital industries has pushed the latter to the forefront of ‘cool’ and now the two often work hand in hand. Digital marketing campaigns for blockbuster movies are now commonplace and are often far more effective than traditional advertisements. The success of the online efforts to raise excitement and awareness for huge crowd-pleasers such as The Dark Knight or Prometheus have been remembered and written about over and over. Indeed, the marketing campaign for Cloverfield (a film coincidentally named after a street in Santa Monica where director JJ Abrams had his office) arguably overshadowed the film itself. The popularity of companies such as Netflix and programmes like BBC iPlayer and 4OD demonstrate the need for the movie industry to adapt and get online. It’s where the demand is. It’s where companies and projects looking to survive in the 21st Century need to market themselves! However, this relationship is very much a two-way street. The digital industry’s thirst for content has very much helped Silicon Beach settle into its new neighbourhood, as it is a need that very much plays into the region’s strengths. As Forbes describes it, ‘Los Angeles is the country’s content mecca, so a shift towards the city’s core competency bodes well for the region as a whole.’ The compatibility between the relatively new tech scene and the established industries of LA is perhaps most obvious at the Silicon Beach Fest, a mini-festival started up last year. This cross-industry event is an exciting effort to further integrate the tech industry into the city’s makeup with four days of conferences, panels and lively parties, giving the brightest minds from the Los Angeles fashion, entertainment and tech sectors a chance to let their hair down together. Speakers and moderators from incubators and web dev. agencies socialise with fashion experts and movie directors. This is the new LA! We love the city’s new direction. It’s an environment in which we thrive. As well as supporting our international campaigns and client portfolio in Britain, the American office has expanded their (and our) workload in the US and taken on new clients. On top of this, last week Justin and his team packed up and moved to a larger, swankier office in order to expand further. With additional local talent and experience the only way for MIR USA is up. It’s going to be another great year to make it rain!