Startup copycats won't win Silicon Valley 'pissing contest': Scoble

Startup copycats won't win Silicon Valley 'pissing contest': Scoble

Summary: Regions looking to emulate Silicon Valley should avoid going head-to-head with it, says Robert Scoble, Rackspace startup liaison officer.

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The unique forces that shaped Silicon Valley — easy access to three universities and a history of government investment throughout the Cold War — set up the region to be the globe's startup poster child many years ago.

While other parts of the world may look to the region and try to emulate it, Rackspace startup liaison officer Robert Scoble says that it is impossible to compete with the Valley ecosystem.

"My advice, if I was sitting down with government people, is don't try to get into a competition with Silicon Valley, you're going to lose that one," Scoble said.

"You're going to lose the startup pissing contest right away."

While Scoble said that while Australian startups are able to stand up to Silicon Valley startups, the regulatory environment in Australia, especially concerning stock options, is holding the ecosystem back.

"We were just talking to the guys that do Shoes of Prey, and they have to play lots of games to get their employees stock options," he said.

"We don't do that in Silicon Valley; everybody has stock options in Silicon Valley, it's an accepted part of how you compensate people, and it's how you convince people to join your startup.

"There is an ecosystem problem here that the government needs to fix."

Looking back at the dotcom bubble, Scoble said that the economic danger is when quick exits start to be looked at as standard practice.

"If your expectations are that you spend five years, and build a business, and you know that there is still a risk that it won't work, then I think that's healthy.

"It's the expectations that get out of whack — that's when the problems start, because it just makes it so hard to build a business that has any value in that kind of climate."

With amendments to Australia's 457 visa laws changing the way that companies in Australia hire foreign workers, Scoble says bringing foreigners into a region is important for its ecosystem.

"We have an attitude that immigrants are stealing jobs, and it's not really true. It's a bad attitude to have as an American, and it's hard to convince people of that."

Topics: Start-Ups, Government AU, Australia

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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5 comments
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  • Scoble?

    "Scoble"

    /ignore
    CobraA1
  • 457 visas are only applicable

    if you are a communications consultant to a now former Labor Prime Minister.
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
  • Who?

    Why are we listening to American vultures like rackspace?
    Damo79
  • Being the best

    1) If I want to be the best company, I need the best people.

    2) If I need the best people, I may need people who aren't natively from the US.

    3) If the US doesn't want foreigners working here because it "takes away jobs" than you need to check a few pieces of reality:
    -- a) A foreigner cannot take away an American job if there wasn't an qualified American. (Ex: An Indian doctor didn't take away my job opportunity. I have no medical degree.)
    --b) If you want Americans to be the most qualified, they you need Americans to be the best. I'll give you a hint; it all starts with attitude and education; 2 things we frequently do poorly.

    Personally, I have encountered a number of times when I wanted or needed training in a specific area and locally, I could find no one who even had a clue as to where to begin, including those who expected me to have the training. Even Internet searches left holes because no one had a clear picture or the only training I could find was out of country.
    ct2193@...
    • error...

      Typo observed, but there's no EDIT option?!?!?

      ..."takes away jobs" then...
      ct2193@...