Is Silicon Valley really falling behind?

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

I think the suitable question to those who were there in the beginning of the glorious Silicon Valley is if there are any changes in the Valley? Andy Tsao, having more than enough of working experience in the Valley, explains: He thinks the silicon valley being the most mature innovation ecosystem in the world, and given the size, depth and breadth that there is no better place to grow or scale a global business. Of course there are challenges such as the extremely high living expenses, the costs of engineering and the cost of running a startup to turnover and staff which all are considered systemic issues. Moreover, due to all the money chasing deals it is, from a valuation perspective, a problem that depends on what side of the equation are you at.

Is Silicon Valley really greedy in terms of being the capital of technology, innovation, investments and global businesses? It sounded a bit controversial to Zaya, but she would argue that today you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to start a truly global business. The numbers speak for themselves when looking at Europe. For example, Europe alone has produced 50 unicorns [5] most of which are global businesses. Also, the European facing businesses that managed to be valued over billion dollar.

The model of Silicon Valley is that you start in the U.S and you are immediately in a geographically homogeneous market where everyone speaks English and have the same labor loss that you are dealing with. In Silicon Valley you are already tapping into a large market where you can prove yourself very fast. There is a lot of capital available, first you become successful in the U.S, like Uber, and then you move your venture out of the United States.

Whereas for a lot of countries as in Europe and the rest of the world, markets are not as large as in the U.S so entrepreneurs think how can they build a business for the European market. There are 28 countries in Europe and 28 languages, this makes it a must for the entrepreneurs to think globally first.  Zaya believes that this was what helped the businesses grow the way they did, which was proved by the numbers that show there are a lot of success stories of business launces and scale-ups in Europe.

While Eamonn thinks the valley is a great place to start a business, he insists that it is not a necessarily a condition to succeed. Nowadays, to start a company you can pretty much do it anywhere. Five to ten years ago, the companies in the U.S were seen as more qualified companies than those in Europe. Silicon Valley is still the technology hub for all businesses and will be cemented for along long time. But right now, people across the globe can get access to the same information and saying so, the valley is not the only place to scale for great businesses can start anywhere.

Where do you see more competitive with the valley’s assets and resources? What other centers are there?

There are various ecosystems naturally developing around the word and outside of the U.S. for example, London is the far second most matured market compared to the valley. That might be because of strong universities that produce a lot of innovative ideas around AI and deep technology which benefited the United Kingdom significantly. Another instance, Dubai is one place to start company in property tech or smart cities. Whereas, in the Asian markets there is a lot of capital in Singapore, an increasing number of investors in Hong Kong. They are all difficult markets but still are super interesting if you get the right partnership.

─ March 21, 2020