Why We Moved Our HQ: Q&A with ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman
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strain our ability to get the quantity and quality of talent in a timely manner. These days, talent doesn’t move much any more, and employers need to set up shop where the concentrations of talent are. Facebook, Google, [and others] are all doing it. Silicon Valley is an obvious [place to expand], because so much of our management team has deep roots and long history there, but we’ve also stood up brand-new sites in Seattle and Amsterdam.
X: Do you see a shortage of particular skills among software developers in San Diego?
FS: The ecosystem of relevant software companies getting started isn’t that large in San Diego. The net effect is that we’re fishing in a small pond, and companies can quickly exhaust categories of talent that are already in high demand, and not in large supply.
X: Are there any steps you can suggest that would help to strengthen the software sector in San Diego?
FS: I think you need to approach it from a position of strength. In the world of these high-flying cloud software companies, it is hard to compete with places like Silicon Valley. Facebook was founded on the East coast, but moved its operations to the Bay Area early on.
Invariably, when it comes to tech, people bring up the outlier success story of Qualcomm, but it is not clear, or at least visible to me, that Qualcomm has seeded the greater San Diego area with startups and talent as a by-product of their scale and growth in the area. In Silicon Valley, you can easily track the lineage from one successful company to another. Some companies are so large and concentrated with talent that they seed whole new technology sectors. It is essentially one beehive of talent that is constantly reconstituting itself into new generations of companies.
Finally, there is the notion of culture and values. San Diego has what I would describe as a lifestyle culture, with a strong balance of life and work. For many, this is very attractive. In the Bay Area by contrast, it is raw ambition, singular drive, and unbridled capitalism in action. People want to make it big, make a ding in the universe, and they are willing to make huge personal sacrifices. It’s not for everybody, but that mentality serves the ultra-demanding entrepreneurial culture well, regardless of one’s personal preferences.
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