A New Dawn for Silicon Beach

As information technology grows at an astonishing rate, more and more internet-based companies have been setting up shop in Santa Monica, California, a coastal town just west of Los Angeles California. The agreeably warm weather, seaside ambience and laid-back atmosphere of this community has attracted such companies as TrueCar, which tracks automobile sales; RiotGames, which has published the hit online game League of Legends; and BeachMint, an institutionally backed social commerce company for celebrity-curated direct-to-consumer products, to name just a few.

In Santa Monica, these web-savvy entrepreneurs are able to indulge such favorite pastimes as surfing and cycling and/or avail themselves of the sophisticated shopping and dining options to be found in Santa Monica.

Indeed, it was the beach lifestyle that attracted information technology companies to Santa Monica during the ill-fated dot-com boom of the 1990s. But although a lot of companies went bankrupt in the wake of 2000’s dot-com bust, when many internet-based firms rapidly burned through their venture capital without any profit to show for it, the vacant industrial buildings they left behind had already been converted, and as such stayed ready for the present-day revival now underway.

MySpace co-founder and BeachMint CEO Josh Berman muses, “A lot of us in tech call [Santa Monica] Silicon Beach.”There are a lot of great companies here. You feel a sense of community.” Without a doubt, the proximity of internet companies to advertising and entertainment firms that rely on digital media has proved advantageous for business and social reasons, and the upscale beachside restaurants along the Santa Monica pier are perfect places for these tycoons to network with one another. Steve Hansen, president of TrueCar observes, “There is a common culture that begins to emerge.”

This booming influx of new companies has had positive results for Santa Monica. The office vacancy rate downtown is a mere 4% of Los Angeles County’s average, and the crime rate has fallen quite appreciably over the past eleven years. But back in 1997, the neighborhood surrounding Main Street was not a safe place to be, what with all the crime and violence, which was usually gang-related. Steve Hansen, while reminiscing about his days as an officer of webhosting service GeoCities, when female employees were regularly escorted to the parking lot, remarks that, “It’s been amazing to watch how gentrified this place has become. It’s heartening to see a really positive, radical transformation.”

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