Hi-Tech Laughs From Silicon Valley – Week 2
I’ve just spent the last 2 weeks in a CEO/Entrepreneur/Start-up house in Palo Alto with 15 other people, an experience. I don’t know you have seen the excellent series Silicon Valley showing here in the US at the moment, but staying in this house is a bit like a cheaper crazier production of the series.
It would be really interesting if there was a camera crew in the house, just silently filming in the background listening to conversations like ‘Dude, you have an awesome idea, you could be the next dropbox’ Or ‘Damn, I just found an another guy doing exactly the same app as me’. The language is the house is a lot more colourful though, not fit for US TV.
Picture about 16 people, some of who share a room, in one single story house. Plenty space, large kitchen and shared office space, some rooms have their own desk, etc.
Cost varies depending on your room, roughly $90 for your own per night and that includes access to everything, kitchen, washing machine, powder, drier, etc. No skimping either, the stuff you need is always there, you just need your own food.
Probably most used and critical feature in this house is fast broadband as the people are from all over, China, India, Pakistan, USA and Europe. So there is ALWAYS somebody working, somebody on Skype, shouting and arguing with another co-founder or in a scrum and the house is as a result, pretty noisy.
After the first night, I thought jaysus, how does anybody get any sleep ! Most people do not btw, they just work, all the time. But, I came up with 2$ solution, ear plugs, they worked great!
They could have done with a LANGuardian to get some visibility though as every so often the network ground to a halt, usually because of one user downloading a large image from a country far far away at the wrong time. A door would open ‘do you find the Internet slow?’
Looks like organizations of all sizes have the same problem. Later the same day I was with a larger multinational customer who were telling me how they used the LANGuardian.
One lady on a remote site used to come in every morning at 7am and ftp a very large file. One day she came in, got distracted, forgot to do it at 7 and kicked it off at noon instead.
A huge peak triggered an alert on the New York link trend. A quick look at the ‘Top users on that subnet’ using the LANGuardian, a call to the user showing her the trend and explaining the implications of her actions resolved the problem immediately. It looks like old bandwidth problem has not gone away, even in the valley.
Living in the house is like being back in College and sharing a busy house with other students. Every so often you hear ‘Damn, some **** used up all my milk’. Very dynamic, different, lots of beer and pizza, pretty unhealthy but loads of fun and energy. A bunch of people working really hard to try and make it, strike gold, get some VC interested, build a team, get started. Sometimes, after being at this for a while, one thinks they have seen everything and know it all, but, after a few weeks in a house like this, you get the kick in the ass needed every so often in your life.
One of the guys in the house introduced me to Soulcycle. I doing a fair bit of cycling and spinning classes back home in Ireland, great way to keep fit, get out there and forget about stuff for a while. As you can probably guess, everything is different in the valley, including spinning!
I did a class with Casey btw, what a workout. Picture a nightclub, really load music, boom, boom…can barely hear the instructor, flashing lights, but instead of dancing, just loads of bikes. The dj is the spinning instructor, really making you work to the music, and it is fast and hot. Now the one crucial difference to the nightclubs I have been to (and it’s been a while but I doubt if things have changed much in Ireland anyway) are the people in the room. In Palo Alto most were female, about 90%. Really interesting and important point, makes it just that bit more enjoyable. For a single guy in Palo Alto, forget about the clubs, just go to soul cycle, you will enjoy it and your chances are good.
Palo Alto, San Fran is a really expensive area to live in and the house is a great option, I enjoyed staying in it and would do so again. It’s not just the money, as with most things, it’s the people. They all share the same common goal, it’s a real community, it’s a great way to meet people, to learn, to develop, to realize how lucky you are. Lot better than a room on your own in a hotel.