It’s been five years since the first iPhone launched and I remember it well as I was having a drink that evening with a good friend who was also UK PR Manager for Apple. She had her shiny new object of desire on the table and we were trying to enjoy our wine and catch up on the events of the day (I was PR manager at Orange so this was exciting stuff for me too). But we could barely finish a sentence without another guy approaching us to check out the phone. Not us, just the phone. I used to do PR for Samsung – back before anyone but Steve Jobs had heard of an iPhone – and we launched some phones I thought were pretty cool. I used to take them out to pubs for a celebratory drink on launch day too. But no-one ever chatted me up to get a look at one.
I read an article on GigaOM today which talked about the two eras of mobile – before iPhone and after. It’s a fair point – people had been talking for years about the mobile phone becoming a remote control for life and the iPhone has almost achieved that. I’ve always loved working in mobile – I have done since the very start of my career – but these times seem more exciting than any before and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Last Friday I went to Silicon Beach Fest a brand new event organized by Digital LA. It’s been a while since I’ve been to an event that left me feeling so excited and enthused. From what I read they put the whole event together in a couple of months and that speed is, I think, testament to the entrepreneurial spirit here in LA.
So why did I get so enthused? Well as a relative newcomer – it’s four years since I shipped in from London – I’ve had trouble tracking down the LA tech scene but it turns out I am not alone. At the media panel Amanda Cooling from TechZulu explained that there are lots of little tech scenes around LA – Santa Monica, Pasadena, Downtown and even Hollywood – and they don’t really connect with each other. Judging from the number of people who asked me where specifically I am based (in order to get a read on me I assume) Amanda is spot on. I can’t help thinking that it’s a shame – we are all missing the party by letting the geography of our city dictate how we think. I spent a few years living in Sydney, Australia. It’s a pretty small city by US standards – about 4.5m people – but my network of PRs was bigger than the one I have here. We all hung out together, drinking in the same bars, meeting at the same events. It was the same when I worked in London. And I have the sense it’s the same in Silicon Valley. So why not here? We’d all be better off for it.
I hope that with the creation of Silicon Beach Fest – and a cool idea from Techzulu for an LA tech census – we can change that. LA Geeks Unite!