These are dark days in Silicon Valley. A chill wind blows through the incubators of Palo Alto and in the canyons of SOMA in San Francisco. Just last Thursday, The Wall Street Journal told us that the sky is falling with startup investors hitting the brakes. This on the heels of the previous week’s CBInsights report, which said basically the same thing. And neither of those were the most terrifying story that I read recently. This was: The next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets. Just think — someone will be really proud they earned their MFA from Middlebury when Howdy the Slackbot goes all T-800 on some office somewhere. Winter is coming.
With all that said, we at The Starr Conspiracy decided that it’s the perfect time to open an office in San Francisco. I’m actually not being cheeky — I’m serious. But even more importantly, please know that we at The Starr Conspiracy are intensely pro-poetry. We do not go gentle into that good night and all that. So, why open an office now? There are five reasons:
- You can’t be homeless forever. Although San Francisco proves every day that you actually can be homeless forever, there comes a point where that guy who shares your office can’t skate by with just occasionally buying you lunch. There comes a point when you notice that he’s putting a dent in the supply of K-Cups and copy paper. That was me. I’ve been office surfing in San Francisco for two years. I’ve paid enough money to Breather for meeting space to buy a condo anywhere else in the continental U.S. outside of Manhattan. I’ve glugged enough coffee in meetings at Sightglass, Peet’s, Blue Bottle, and Philz all over the Bay Area to float a container ship. Mostly, I depended on the kindness of a lot of people around the Bay. I owe more gratitude to lots of people for their friendship, support, desk space, and coffee over that time than I can ever repay, but thank you Allen Miner and Ken Ehrhart at Sunbridge Partners, Blair Jeffris and Armando Gallegos at ReTargeter, Mark Stelzner at IA-HR, David Brunner at ModuleQ, and other friends and clients such as Jim Matheson, Frank Patitucci, Emily He, Mollie Kittle, and Michael Overell, to name but a few. Now that Bay Area clients represent about 30 percent of TSC’s business, compared with 10 percent the prior year, the message is clear — it’s time to buy our own coffee and copy paper and finally pay some rent.
- In spite of the rollback, HR tech is booming. Yes, there is some tightening in Silicon Valley. Some startups are failing. For example, Shuddle — the Uber-for-kids startup — has shut down because of a lack of funding. However, as you can see in the chart below, software funding remains strong.
Furthermore, funding continues to flow into this space. Consider this: 2015 was the best year for investment for HR tech ever, with $2.185 billion invested and 18 percent ($393 million) of those deals coming out of Silicon Valley companies, according to CBInsights. That roll is continuing. The best year for HR tech previously was 2000, with $859 billion.
That is, at least for one more quarter. In Q1 of 2016, investment in HR tech was $552 million, the second-best quarter ever after Q2 of 2015. If you went so far as to include corporate learning and business intelligence/talent analytics software, the number would be even higher. Eventually, the funding binge will end. However, the trend is set. The bump in investment from 1999 and 2000 set the market in motion that is still riding today. The funding tsunami of 2015 and 2016 will propel HR tech for the next 10 to 15 years. In summary, enterprise software is The Starr Conspiracy’s bailiwick and HR tech is our specialty. Silicon Valley continues to be the global tech hub. San Francisco is the right place at the right time.
- “All your San Franciscos will have to fall eventually and burn again.” Although this could be referring to the adversity certain startups are experiencing, it’s actually a line from Jack Kerouac’s poem “October in the Railroad Earth,” which is one of my favorites. He wrote that one block from The Starr Conspiracy’s office at 461 2nd St., Suite 102, which you may know as the Clocktower Building. I think that’s kind of cool. We are also around the corner from Jack London’s old house. There’s a great SF vibe, a very tasty food truck park next door, and AT&T Park a line drive away.
- You can’t stop an octopus. The Starr Conspiracy salutes you, Inky the Octopus. The logo and mascot of The Starr Conspiracy is an octopus we call Ocho. The octopus is an ancient symbol of mystery and creativity. As Inky showed us, an octopus will always find a way. Yes, the octopus is a force to be reckoned with. Like the stalwart octopus, the agents of The Starr Conspiracy have a particular set of skills. Sure, you can find a lot of local agencies that flash creative but lack understanding of the competitive landscape and can’t see the future. Nothing against those peeps. However, for companies that don’t have the time to teach an agency about their industry (also known as: everyone), we offer a proven, forward-looking path to velocity and growth informed by unmatched knowledge and experience. We generate leads, build brand recognition, and seize market share. You want to be a market leader? You work with us.
- It all comes back to local. The Starr Conspiracy’s home is Fort Worth — “Where the West Begins.” San Francisco is the gateway to the Far East and where the West comes to a majestic conclusion at The Golden Gate Bridge. By co-locating our company, we can bring together what we think is the best of the West — vision, possibility, enthusiasm, capability, and authenticity. Regardless of location, our clients will always have access to our best people and get more face-to-face collaboration, industry expertise, and creative services for growing companies with unmet needs.
Whether you want to talk HR tech, marketing, Giants baseball, or Beat poetry, let us know when you want to drop by. Hope to see you soon!