I was meeting with a young entrepreneur this morning who launched his web 2.0 company in Durham. The company is still really early with 1,500 registered users.
Over coffee at Starbucks, he was bitching about how hard it is to compete with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc for development talent here in NC. His arguement was that they (west coast companies) are raising the cost for developers and a lot of the better developers are fleeing NC for the riches in Silicon Valley.
I had a really hard time understanding this. Let me explain:
1) The tech companies that are truly competing head to head with Google are the companies on the west coast where Google is right down the street. I spoke with one Silicon Valley CTO today and he said there was a drought of developers in Silicon Valley. He also felt it was harder to find developers on the west coast than it is on the east coast.
2) The great entrepreneurs, with the great ideas and the ones that are willing to part with the right amount of equity shouldn't have a hard time attracting development talent. There is a ton of tech talent here with the local universities (NC State, UNC and Duke) and larger companies like Cisco, Red Hat, IBM and SAS right in our backyard.
3) There is a huge cost of living advantage to being here in NC compared to Silicon Valley. The average cost in '07 for a house in Saratoga is $1.75m, Palo Alto is $1.65m and Mountain View is $950k. In fact, Silicon Valley Leadership Group calls Silicon Valley "one of the least affordable places to live" and the Raleigh area as one of the most affordable tech hubs in the country.
4) More importantly, the cost for development talent here in NC is a lot cheaper than Silicon Valley. What this means is that it can be cheaper to build a company here.
I am not saying that RTP crushes Silicon Valley or Boston with the development talent here. But what I am saying is that for folks that are here in NC and looking to staff up on the development side, they shouldn't be blaming companies in other regions for their misfortunes.