Mark Suster: 'Silicon Valley Will Always Produce the Big Hits'
BY Julie Strickland
The seasoned VC says Silicon Valley will remain a tech hub for years, but Silicon Alley, with its focus on content, is paving the way for exciting changes.
What's in a name? A lot, according to Mark Suster, founder and CEO of Build Online and an investor with the Los Angeles-based GRP partners.
That's why his firm is changing its name.
"I think it's a bit rich that we go around to entrepreneurs and say markets are being disrupted, you need to change," he said during the Venture Forward Conference in New York on Tuesday.
The new moniker, which he wouldn't disclose at the conference but plans to unveil next week, will be the first such change for GRP in 17 years. It's meant to reflect GRP's renewed focus on transparency and investment in infrastructure--two things entrpreneurs say they want.
The idea came after polling a group of entrepreneurs, who also said they look for operational experience, industry insight, marketing help, and people who can bring capital to the table from their VC firm. Since all those encompass what GRP does, "We felt we needed a name that would represent all those things," he said.
When asked how hard it's been to do business "so far south of Silicon Valley," Suster acknowledged the challenge, but pointed to markets outside of the tech hub.
"Silicon Valley will always produce the biggest hits; it will always be the tech ecosystem for the foreseeable future," he said. "But there are market conditions that make it easier and better to build outside Silicon Valley."
Focusing on software-based start-ups has proven this: Many things which revolve around the Internet--content, commerce, and communication--aren't dominated by the Valley, he found.
"Commerce is something great trading cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles have always done well," Suster said. In terms of content, "New York has a significant advantage there." And communication has strongholds in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, and "of course, New York. That's why we've seen companies standing out more."
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168