Silicon Valley is rooting for Silicon Valley. And that’s Ok. For Silicon Valley that is. For the Clubhouse that is.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Americans praising American innovation and entrepreneurship. Hell, my life has been shaped by American innovation and entrepreneurship. I love America! However, it’s one thing to root for the home-team, it’s another to strangle-hold mindshare.
The power that SV tech outlets are wielding these days for the benefit of home-town tech is no less than extraordinary. Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting it’s premeditated or evil. Responsibility also rests upon the readership who has (unwittingly) bestowed upon the SV press the ability to anoint kings and queens. Regardless, it’s happened, and continues to take a stronger hold every single news day.
Here’s an anecdote:
A while ago I wrote a story about Mobli and how I thought it was one of the more important startups to come-up to Israel. Inside TechCrunch the feedback was that it was too enthusiastic (skewed even) toward the company. And of course it was. First, I honestly found the company’s balls and vision fascinating. Second, as I was at their office that morning to hear about what they were working on, air raid sirens went off signaling a Red Alert (Israel was mid-skirmish with the Palestinians again).
As we halted the meeting to join the rest of the company in the ‘safe room,’ two rockets were intercepted by air-to-air missiles over the skies of Tel-Aviv. We could hear the thuds. (Thank you Iron Dome!)
As we were walking back to the CEO’s office, the parents, I among them, called to make sure our kids were OK. They were, and we continued the meeting without missing a beat.
If the point was lost on you… Rocket-science geeks made it possible for consumer-app geeks to continue designing, shipping code, to build — to connect people.
It was an Israeli entrepreneurial moment no SV writer can relate to. Hopefully it will remain this way for them.
This was most certainly not a regular morning in San Francisco. So this most certainly was not a regular SV story.
(Btw, Mobli went on to take on one of the biggest funding rounds in Israeli hitech history, $60M. No small change even in SV standards either, and I know for a fact that some outlets didn’t feel it was newsworthy. $60M!)
Juxtapose this with ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way,’ a wonderful piece by Kim-Mai Cutler that was lauded by the SV echo-chamber. A wonderful piece, yet rather meaningless for the international readership.
Enter the Clubhouse:
Let me use TechCrunch as example because it’s actually done more for international startups than most: It began when Arrington was the first to embrace the international angle by bringing-in an Israeli correspondent on-board (me). It continues today with TechCrunch’s COO, Ned Desmond (a total gentleman), putting a lot of effort on taking TechCrunch international (Disrupt Berlin was just the tip of the iceberg).
Along the way the torch was held high by Mike Butcher (a true mensch) who’s been hustling the European scene, and so has (the lovely) Ingrid Lunden. Former TC writer Robin Wauters deserves his due historical credit.
But let’s call a spade, a spade.. The agenda is based in Silicon Valley, for Silicon Valley. While there are great people making a great effort, the mindshare and editorial are drastically lagging on the international front. I could argue to the determent of SV, but I’m more concerned with its determent on international tech.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading TechCrunch (of course), Recode, Pando and the like. Their editorial choices are perfectly legitimate. If they deem to report every fart coming out of Uber HQ, who am I to judge? At the same time — and it pains me to say this — the ability of international startups to get the attention of such outlets has regressed from hard, to dismal.
This is a touchy subject, but one that’s been on my mind this past year. Is this a problem? Depends who you ask. I have… And many, in Israel, Europe, Brazil, and I’m sure elsewhere, feel it’s an ever-growing one.
Is the solution more attention from the existing outlets? Is it a brand-new outlet dedicated to the international tech angle? Is it something else?
Please share your thoughts, here.