San Francisco & Alpha Adoption Culture

As it often happens, whenever I leave the hothouse of Silicon Valley, the bigger picture emerges and dots start to connect. It is not because I become a different person, it just so happens that my perspective changes. And even if it is going for one coast to another, it is good to view your world from a different perspective and a different lens. It is something that is very useful in any and all businesses.

While I was in New York, a friend and I joked about the gulf between Silicon Valley and rest of the world. Pink mustaches, cars on demand, deliver-by-phone and cashless payments via the phone are pretty normal behavior in the city by the Bay. Not so much in New York.

Definitely not in Kalamazoo, Michigan or Atlanta, Georgia. People still use Blackberry here. The point my friend made (at same time taking a potshot at living in the future) that while it is great to be carried away by the possibilities of technologies, the real world moved at much slower speed.

Maybe it is time for consumer oriented Silicon Valley Startups to think different and start launching their services in the real world first instead of trying to capture the data from alpha adopter crowd in our backyard? Of course that would mean talking to venture capitalists who actually look up from their screens and leave the Bay Area and venture into the real world.

Just a thought!


  1. Steven Kane (@stevenkane) says:

    June 4th, 2013 at 2:17 pm Reply

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

  2. Jose Berengueres (@harriken) says:

    June 4th, 2013 at 5:30 am Reply

    it s like Tokyo 1989 without the Galapagos effect.

  3. Shaunak Roy says:

    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:05 pm Reply

    Great read. I think SV will continue to have an edge in strictly consumer oriented start-ups where the alpha adoption culture is critical for success. The cult of early success in the valley and then a nationwide roll-out is a proven model. Takes a long time to replicate elsewhere.

    Disruption of enterprise IT would be a much different game as the early adopters (other than tech industry) are not in the valley. SV would almost have to learn real business :) not impossible, but not a given and there lies the opportunity for outsiders.

  4. Net Jacobsson says:

    June 2nd, 2013 at 9:49 pm Reply

    Very true. For somebody who lived in SV and then moved out it is clear that many investors and entrepreneurs there constantly live in the reality distortion field.

    1. Om Malik says:

      June 3rd, 2013 at 6:18 am Reply


      I think a quick trip out of the Silicon Valley biosphere corrects that. :-)

  5. Jesse Kopelman says:

    June 2nd, 2013 at 9:04 pm Reply

    Recently had a similar conversation within the larger topic of large-scale infrastructure deployment.

    1. Om Malik says:

      June 3rd, 2013 at 6:18 am Reply


      Can you elaborate a little. I would love to learn more. Also, great to hear from you again. :-)

  6. Zachary Burt says:

    June 1st, 2013 at 1:23 pm Reply

    I would like to share a hypothetical distinction from a perspective that is academic, instead of experienced-practictioner; I would like to offer it up to the crowd for vetting:

    Technical innovation perhaps is best served to the high-tech market first; new services that don’t signal any sea change in process could marketed directly to the post-chasm segments

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