Silicon Beach is spreading to Venice.
The quirky beach-side community drew hundreds of attendees to a packed town hall meeting dubbed The Emergence of Silicon Beach on Thursday to discuss the burgeoning Westside tech scene and how to attract firms and talent to the area.
Executives from Google, local start-ups Viddy and Mogreet, and accelerator Amplify were on hand for a panel moderated by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who repeatedly told audience members that they were witnessing a “Venicessance.” Nearly two dozen tech companies set up booths to tout their products and ideas to about 400 attendees.
Panelist James Citron, chief executive and co-founder of mobile marketing firm Mogreet, said Southern California has come a long way and is finally attracting investment capital and interest.
“Ten years ago, it was very hard,” he said. “You had to fly up to San Francisco and do the Sand Hill Road dance, for those of you who know the venture capital world. Now they’re coming down here looking for great companies, so that’s a big fundamental change.”
Thomas Williams, senior site and engineering director for Google’s Los Angeles office -- which recently relocated to the Frank Gehry-designed Binoculars Building in Venice -- said he wanted to bring more tech events, mixers and partnerships to Venice to help it become “more of a tech hub.”
“I’m very open now that we have a campus to being able to use it to help build relationships,” he said. “Regardless of whether we benefit directly, getting academics and getting technology companies can only be a good thing.”
As Silicon Beach grows, Amplify co-founder Jeff Solomon said, the area will be home to “real businesses that are generating real money that employ real people that aren’t necessarily going to sell for $1 billion to Facebook.”
“It’s enjoyable to run your own business, to do something you’re passionate about,” he said. “I like the idea of getting those people.”