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Mark Zuckerberg talks down Silicon Valley

31 Oct 2011

One of the most famous routes in the technology world is the flight from Boston to San Francisco. The trip has been made by many a young engineer and would-be entrepreneur, leaving the halls of MIT and Harvard for the venture capital firms and start-up incubaters of Silicon Valley.

But not everyone is sold on the California dream. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said recently that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have given Silicon Valley the cold shoulder and stayed back east.

Speaking at an event called Startup School, Zuckerberg criticised the culture in Silicon Valley as "short-sighted", and said that, if he were to go back and start a new company, he would do it in Boston.

The comment makes for an interesting debate, not just because it comes from one of the biggest names in the business world today. Zuckerberg acknowledged that he could not have built Facebook without moving to Silicon Valley, but said that the growth of hubs in Boston, New York and London has made starting a company without moving to Silicon Valley a far more viable proposition.

Zuckerberg also made an interesting point about the culture of Silicon Valley and its short-term demands. The region has seen two major crashes in the past decade, the dot-com bust and the fallout from the economic turmoil, meaning that investors who have been burned want the assurance of getting their money back as soon as possible.

Perhaps Zuckerberg is on to something. Firms in other regions could be more patient with their investments and let entrepreneurs operate with a slightly looser leash. London has its own economic challenges to navigate, but there is some merit to the idea that firms moving into Tech City will have more time to turn a profit than if they started up in Sunnyvale or San Francisco.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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