Ahh California, where everyone comes for the “women, weed and weather.” But when it comes to entrepreneurship, money and power, people always debate between California’s tech capital Silicon Valley or southern California’s glamorous Hollywood scene. Both are “typical” California, but they are also very different from each other in terms of their business culture. Which hotspot has the money, the opportunity, and the culture that fits you and your company the best?
Only one is better for business, one has a better corporate culture, one has more style, and the other values power over money. Can you guess which is which?
While pretentious parties in the endless summertime bubble that is Hollywood can be fun, we are going to defer to a billionaire who seems to know what he’s talking about here. Elon Musk explains that, “You could take the craziest L.A. party and multiply it by a thousand, and it doesn’t even get f*cking close to what’s in Silicon Valley… The parties in Silicon Valley are amazing because people don’t care about how they’re perceived socially… Hollywood is a place where people always care about what the public will think of them… I’ve lived in Hollywood 12 years, and I’ve never been to a f*cking good party.” Harsh words, but all true.
Hollywood would have a better meeting culture if they didn’t flake on you all the time. “In the Valley, a hike, walk or run is just as likely as a coffee at Sightglass to seal a deal,” says Erin McPherson, Chief Content Officer at Maker Studios. The casualness of setting up a meeting in Silicon Valley is less snobby and less stressful. Why put up with anything else?
Hollywood is all about overpriced luxury cars while Silicon Valley is about the eco-friendly “humblebrag” electric vehicles. Let’s be real- pretentious luxury cars just have more style. As amazing as a Tesla is (admittedly more amazing than most German engineered cars out there), it just doesn’t beat the sexiness of an Italian sports car, and Southern California is just a better habitat for them.
Who pay’s better? Let’s put it this way- Hollywood workers work and earn as much as slaves compared to their Silicon Valley counterparts. Jonathan Dotan, HBO’s Silicon Valley co-producer, explains, “It’s by far the richer town… When you look at net worths and annual salaries, we’re talking about magnitudes of 10 times, even at the entry and middle levels. In Hollywood, VPs in development can earn low six figures. At Google, VPs can earn $1 million.” Don’t forget how competitive working for Google is though- does it beat being an easily replaceable employee in L.A.?
Note: The key word here is “classier,” and if there’s one thing Hollywood could have more of… well, you know. Let’s take WeHo’s Soho House and compare it to San Francisco’s The Battery. Soho House is open roofed, has a city view, and is Mediterranean casual in style- typical Southern California basically. The Battery is a private, ultra-exclusive tech-backed club influenced by old world prestige fashioned in leather, wood, and brick. Say you were rich, where would you feel most gangster?
According to Fast Company, Hollywood is always about the quick money, but equity is the name of the game in the Valley. Try asking for equity in Hollywood and they’ll laugh you right out the door- try taking the quick money in Silicon Valley and you might get laughed at for prematurely cashing out for a tiny fraction of a potential billion dollar company. How much will you sell yourself out for? (Hint- equity is always better).
“If an entrepreneur or a VC wears a suit, it either means they are going to a funeral, wedding or being deposed. Jeans, T-shirt and normcore is de rigueur,” says Josh Felser, founder of Freestyle Capital. In Hollywood, the suit is a standard issue outfit while Silicon Valley billionaires will wear hoodies and sandals to important meetings- this is just unacceptable. I understand that wearing a comfortable outfit brings more utility if you are doing computer work for days on end, but having the fashion sense of a middle-school kid just isn’t professional.
There are great places to eat in L.A., arguably better than Silicon Valley in terms of variety, but on those busy work days, finding something good to eat downtown is a grueling adventure through L.A. traffic (don’t forget the pain it causes your wallet). But if you work at a company like Google, they provide gourmet lunch on site, often for free or only a couple of dollars, and it’s nutritious, delicious, and absolutely more convenient. A cafeteria that provides fresh field greens, parchment steamed halibut, cold-pressed juices and triple espresso? You just can’t beat that.
Being an exec in Hollywood is amazing because you get your own luxury office suite and private bathroom and you don’t have to see or smell the peasants that work below you if you don’t want to. “Silicon Valley execs, other than VCs, are in a race to see who can have the most open plan,” says Josh Felser. Silicon Valley’s offices are more open, communal, and higher-ups work closely with the rest of the team, encouraging quick and informal meetings- plus free luxury wi-fi shuttles to and from work, free office supplies, gyms, spas, dry cleaning, babysitting, and you can’t beat the gourmet cafeteria. Call me crazy, but that definitely beats a cubicle, a traffic filled commute on the 405, and the ever smelly office fridge.
“In tech land, you only call someone if you if you are bleeding, on fire and need them this very second,” says Amazon Studios’ Roy Price. In Hollywood, phones stay connected to your head, but Silicon Valley is an email culture. This might be a matter of personal preference, but emails are less stressful, it’s as casual as texting, plus you won’t have someone else’s voice always screaming in your ear all day. Another trait is that in Hollywood, people seem to never say no, but as Sibyl Goldman, Facebook’s head of entertainment partnerships, explains, “in tech, you are expected to give direct, even critical feedback and be brutally honest.” It’s the difference between being entertainment driven and being driven by innovation- honesty and innovation win this round.