Whose Silicon Beach Is It? San Diego Used the Term 2 Decades Before Google Came to Venice

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Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM

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Updated at the bottom: One tech czar says maybe all of Southern California's tech-biz scene should be called "Silicon Beach." First posted at 8:07 a.m.

We get mad at New York for trying to surf, claiming that it invented graffiti art despite the fact that Latino gangs have been doing it here for nearly a century, and having an overall superior attitude about all things L.A.

Well, look in the mirror, Los Angeles. Because we're kicking sand in San Diego's face. No, we didn't end up stealing the Chargers back.

But Angelenos have been co-opting a name, Silicon Beach, that has been used in that city to the south for two decades:

Google's new beachhead in Venice, along with a smattering of web company offices (AOL, Yahoo) in Santa Monica, have inspired people to start using the term to describe our Westside tech scene as "Silicon Beach."

Sounds logical, except it's already taken!

Silicon Beach Fest 2012, a collision of geek-world stars from some of the web's hottest companies is, in fact, happening in Santa Monica as we speak.

A media rep for the fest declined to comment on the topic.

Poor San Diego. Its Silicon Beach is located in Sorrento Valley, near beautiful La Jolla and UC San Diego. Its inhabitants include Qualcomm, Pfizer and others. This author even wrote about it in 2009, noting that the community claimed to be seeing 360 tech companies lay down roots there ... each year.

Whew. The scene is serious down there. It's not like they're hurting for a good name. Still ...

Bailey Cunning, VP of operations for the San Diego tech incubators CommNexus / EvoNexus told the Weekly:

... The term has been referencing San Diego for over twenty years. The technology industry in San Diego continues to grow and create new start up companies, 26 of which are housed in our EvoNexus Incubators' two San Diego locations ... The success that we've seen hasn't come from catchy nicknames.

That's true. The real work happens in the cubicles. So no harm done if L.A. gives the name back?

Besides, Silicon Beach, which fits San Diego just fine, is way to shiny-happy for the Venice-Santa Monica coast and its many homeless inhabitants, pot smokers and skateboarders.

Digital Dogtown is more like it.

[Update at 5:05 p.m.]: Camille Sobrian Saltman, president of San Diego CONNECT, one of the organizations that kick-started the tech boom for our neighbor to the south, suggests that maybe the entirety of the SoCal web-biz and biotech scene could become "Silicon Beach." She told the Weekly this afternoon:

I think the sincerest form of flattery is imitation! In addition, one of the important strategies for our region is to market and promote all of Southern California as a major innovation hub to the outside world. So perhaps if Venice adopts the Silicon Beach term it will create more visibility for the entire SoCal region!

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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