For many years, New York, Washington and Los Angeles, have dominated as a geographic backdrop for Hollywood films, premium-channel offerings such as the Sopranos, Sex and the City and Girls and Mad Men. The same is true of network and Netflix shows from House of Cards to NYPD Blue to The West Wing.
Meanwhile, as companies in the San Francisco Bay area are driving an increasing amount of innovation and growth in the American economy, Hollywood and TV has left this landscape largely untouched. Up till now, many written works have explored the culture of Silicon Valley (such as Michael Lewis's The New, New Thing, Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter, and Dave Eggar's novel The Circle) but few films outside of The Social Network and the less noteworthy Vince Vaughn comedy, The Internship, have ventured into these waters. Even fewer TV series have tackled the subject.
Silicon Valley and the Bay Area has developed a unique culture from several waves of boom and bust cycles. The young millionaires who work in these companies have supplanted finance workers as the new "masters of the universe," with their own private, unmarked bus systems that shuttle them from pricy apartments in San Francisco out to Cupertino and Mountain View for work, raising a stink among locals angry about gentrification.
While purporting to "change the world" with technology, the tech hordes have done a lot of good by inventing search engines, gadgets and apps to run on them. But, under the guise of "information yearns to be free," they have also created a lot of disruption in industries such as music, journalism, academia and, yes, TV—forcing industry declines, employee layoffs, and company closures while shifting money from the pockets of established companies to tech industry pockets.
Sure, that's capitalism. But let's not forget that government played a role in creating the Internet—allowing it to be "free"—telecommunications policy and other infrastructure that forms the bedrock of our information economy.
Research shows American young people are less interested in living in expensive metropolises such as New York and Chicago these days and are, instead, flocking to startup-heavy cities such San Francisco, Austin, and Portland. The idea of finding great wealth, independence, and notoriety in the tech world is extremely alluring. According to research by demographer Wendell Cox, tech-heavy cities saw the biggest growth in 20 to 34-year-olds between 2007 and 2012. The San Francisco metro area placed first among the largest U.S. metro areas with a 20.7% increase in its population in this age group. It was followed by Seattle (20.3% growth), Washington, D.C. (18.1%), and Austin, Texas (18.1%). Meanwhile, New York was 19th and Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago didn't crack the top 20.
Whether we like it or not, Silicon Valley, the place, is going through another modern day Gold Rush like it did in the 1990s and like it did in 1849 (when men were panning for actual Gold rather than the clever new mobile app). It's a place where American youth want to be, a place to make their bones and make their fortunes.
The quest for IT success Richard and his team at Pied Piper are chasing is the same one many American young people are scrambling for—or at least wish they were. It's the notion that any of us could come up with a new web site idea or a mobile app that gains a following, unlocks instant fame, and delivers filthy lucre, which some tech tycoons then pretend to not care about even though they do.
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