Bubbles & Tectonics

My reason for moving San Francisco almost three weeks ago was to pursue investment for AffinityLive, and with that money grow the R&D team in Wollongong as well as establish a sales and marketing team here in the US.

Of course, implicit in this is the assumption that if I can’t raise investment, I’ll move back to Australia. But, the reality is that I’m going to stick it out here and make it work. If I can’t raise VC, it will slow things down and make it harder, but I’m not going to be giving up and coming back to Australia with my tail between my legs.

Unless something extraordinary happens.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment that the tech industry here in Silicon Valley is in a bubble.

I’m actually a bet each way in the financial sense of a bubble – irrational exuberance that leads to unsustainable asset price growth (read: valuations) which keeps expanding rapidly as everyone piles in speculatively until – POP – the bubble bursts, leaving destruction, depressed valuations, shattered dreams and penniless investors in its wake.

But what is 100% true is that Silicon Valley is in an economic bubble.

The wider US economy is about to go into another recession. Unemployment remains high, people are still losing their homes, and the sharemarket is going nuts, with a “correction” of more than 12% in the last month and crazy levels of volatility. But here in Silicon Valley, the good times keep on rolling. Sure, people look out on the markets and the wider economy with concern, but as Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape) wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, technology and software world is on the right side of some tectonic shifts; they’re eating the business models of many of the companies on the S&P500, and there’s a strong sense that froth and some foolishness aside, the fundamentals of this industry and this part of the world are strong and will be for decades to come.

There’s really only one thing I see as potentially threatening this situation. And the key word is in the previous paragraph – tectonic.

As almost everyone knows, San Francisco and the “silicon valley” area of California sits on top of one of the most geologically active regions of the world.

The place was pretty much destoyed in 1906, and in 1989 they had another big quake (measuring 6.9) which caused a lot of destruction throughout the Bay area. The picture to the right was taken in the Marina where I’m going to be living (although, mum, don’t worry, I’ve got the liquefaction maps and I won’t be living in a place that is built on landfill).

We had a small quake here – I didn’t feel it – on Tuesday night, and it got me thinking – probably the only thing that would cause the music to stop here would be a big earthquake that bought this place to a halt.

The consequences of a big earthquake would of course be dire for the city and its population, but for our industry it would probably be the equivalent of what 9/11 was for world share markets. It was something no-one could predict, and the destruction, the loss of people and their knowledge proved to have long lived epic consequences for the global financial system.

But if we’re honest, the finance system doesn’t really “create” much, and when they do, we’re reminded that it would be better if they didn’t. They facilitate and enable things, which is why the world economy felt such a shock, but with so many other actors and the big players being truly international, the rebound to “business as usual” (and the run up to the sub-prime fiasco) didn’t take so long.

Thinking about the consequences for the technology sector if there was wanton destruction in San Francisco, I can’t help but think that things would be different. Almost every major tech company in the world has their main presence here, their main people here, their advisers and their partners. The consequences of “the big one” would be epic for our industry, and unlike terrorism, there’s one thing that is for sure – over the long term, you can count on there being another big earthquake down the San Andres fault.

Let’s just hope that is isn’t any time soon.


#protip – never rent a ZipCar unless you know exactly where it is located. As in you’ve eyeballed the spot and the car yourself BEFORE you book it.

Am spending the day down in Palo Alto today, and had a gap between meetings. I’m meeting up with a mate down here for an Advance event at 6pm, and he’s going to give me a ride back to the city, so I thought, sweet, I’ll catch the Caltrain down.

Then a friend at Google messaged me and suggested I come over there for lunch, meet some people in the field, hang out – perfect. The cabs here in Silicon Valley are really expensive and hard to find, so I thought, sweet, I’ll get a Zipcar from Mountain View, duck over to Google, have lunch, do the meeting with the lawyers at 3pm, then drop the car back at Mountain View, train it a couple of stops to the 6pm event, and get a ride home.


The first unfortunate thing is that Zipcar’s Mountain View location isn’t actually in Mountain View. Doh. Get off the train in the wrong place, and have to head back one stop to San Antonio. One stop in these rip off dirty stinky taxis – $14 please. My mistake; booked the Zipcar in a hurry at a cafe in Palo Alto and was on the train when looking up the address, and was too slow.

Then I get dropped off right where Google Maps says the Zipcar will be – 175 S San Antonio Road. Turns out, though that Google Maps on the mobile is wrong. Wrong by miles. Would have taken 45 mins to walk between where it said the location was, and where the car actually was.

Of course, I didn’t realize this until I’d been looking – on foot, in the sun – for the car through the large parking lots around the Safeway, or the business park, or even in the underground garage next to the Caltrain. I inspected every Prius, hoping for it to be a Zipcar. FAIL.

So, after 45 mins, I call Zipcar, and we have an entertaining chat about the nearest cross streets. Then I realized Google was way off, and decided more than an hour after getting off the train in Mountain View to give up on the whole plan entirely.

So, relying on technology for location, and Zipcar to actually have the car in Mountain View where they say it is on the listing, not Los Altos where it actually is located, ended up with a whole day of fail. Perhaps I’ll have to buy a car to survive here after all.

Hello Gooto – why the Motorola acquisition might actually be aimed at the carriers

I checked in on the headlines this morning and got a big shock, one I didn’t really see coming. Google has acquired Motorola for $12.5B and gaining another 20K employees in the process.

Some pretty interesting thoughts already emerging, even though as John Lilly says, the structure of the deal and what will happen with the business going forward is by no means certain.

The main ones I’m seeing are:

  1. This is all about getting an integrated hardware/software solution to compete with the much superior iPhone experience.
  2. This is all about getting the patent portfolio of Motorola so Google isn’t standing there with a knife – or a ukulele playing kumbaya – in the patent gun fight.

The Integrated Stack Hypothesis

I don’t really buy the first argument. Samsung, HTC and Motorola are all creating great handsets and fantastic user experiences. The Samsung Galaxy II is in my experience a much better user experience than the iPhone. Sure, then there’ll be the iPhone 5 and the competition will continue, but this mindset that iPhone is so clearly superior is a very Silicon Valley thing; Android is already out-selling the iPhone, and Apple continue to limit their innovations to their own platform (most recent examples being their messenger product, and before that, Facetime). We’ve seen this story before.

While Motorola is the only one of these three big companies to make the Android-only bet, and thus is most ready for acquisition in that respect, and Samsung is too big, diversified and successful to be a target either – do you know they make earthmoving equipment? – the reality is that Google doesn’t need to develop the “integrated hardware and software stack” to make Android a success – Android is already a success, and that is why it is being hit so hard in IP fights.

The IP Hypothesis

The second reason that is certainly true and real – Larry admitted it in black and white on their blog post announcing the deal – is the IP protection consideration. To give themselves a defensive warchest – which they can cross-licence to HTC and Samsung and the rest, thereby giving them a bigger shield than they’ve enjoyed thus far – Google have just gone out and bought a hardware manufacturing and distribution business, acquired the obligations that come with having another 20,000 staff, and god-knows-what-else-is-hiding-in-an-80+-year-old-company. They surely haven’t had time to do due dilligence: no-one saw this coming. They’re making a pretty big bet, and all that just a month after they lost at Nortel bid in what MG described as a replay of the staking game from Casino Royale.

Now, not all patent portfolios are created equal, but Google recently passed up the opportunity to acquire all of the Nortel Patents for $4.5B. That is almost a third as much as they’ve just spent on buying Motorola. So, either there’s something amazing in the operating Motorola business compared to the defunct Nortel business that justifies spending an extra $8B when Google said the reason they backed out of the Nortel auction was because the price was too steep, or someone from Google on the Nortel team doesn’t get their Christmas bonus this year.

The Market Hypothesis

There’s a third, and I think really important reason, why doing this deal might make sense in the long run for Google, and I haven’t seen it spoken about yet in this debate. A year ago MG @ Techcrunch was railing about how the Carriers here in the US were using the ‘open’ nature of Android to continue their vice-like grip of the user experience for their customers. Buy a Sprint phone, and you get it jammed full of crapware like bogan Nascar apps and the like. Same with Verizon, and with the Galaxy II in Australia, you’d get the bullshit Optus apps and Samsung’s rubbish app store just confusing users.

There is another potential in the mix here. Apparently, when Google were first thinking about how to take Android to market, they wanted to have a $100 phone which wasn’t tied to a carrier. The carriers apparently vetoed this scenario, and Google realized without a cell network of its own the idea was DOA.

That was before the success of Android, but they’d still really struggle to do it without a serious hardware capability; a hardware manufacturer that tried to break the cartel would probably be blacklisted by the cartel, and they wouldn’t be able to handle the heat.

Google, on the other hand, can. Now that Android is entrenched, they could try and disrupt this market. They could provide a phone, an O/S and give users freedom and portability. They could go down market into the land still owned by feature phone manufacturers like Nokia and go after the long tail of users who are still more likely to click on ads (remember, that’s how they make money). And while the carriers would absolutely be pissed off by this, Android has grown large and entrenched enough now to get away with it.

Will they do it? I don’t know. In the short term it might piss off HTC and Samsung for Google to use Motorola in this way, as it would be so disruptive and would require the phone to be sold as a loss leader. But, if this is a section of the market that HTC and Samsung weren’t able to access anyway, and if is allowed people to buy the best phone and take it where they wanted, then perhaps it would be a win in the medium term for everyone. Except for the US carriers. And that would be a great result for the rest of us.

Reflections on the Chromebook – 10 times better than an iPad

TL;DR version: the Chromebook is already 10 times more useful than my tablet, and the fact it is only running a very fast browser allows this thing to be fast and useful like a fully loaded laptop, but with the battery life, lighter weight and low cost profile of a netbook.

A week ago I fired up the Google Chromebook that I got as an attendee at GoogleIO back in May. When I first heard about the Chromebook project, I was pretty skeptical; I already had a Netbook and a tablet, and to be honest neither device has been that revolutionary in terms of my work.

While the tablet is awesome for consuming media and being entertained, I don’t really get enough downtime to be entertained. With the response to the iPad by technology pundits being so overwhelming – revolutionary, game changing, a breakthrough new computing experience – I figured Google was just allowing some of their engineers to indulge in a bit of a geekery because they can afford to, much like the self driving car project.

However, I have been very very very pleasantly surprised – this Chromebook has already become an integral part of my technology toolbox.

My primary machine is a 15″ Dell Latitude Laptop, which comes packed with 8GB of RAM and is able to run a complete stack of our application. It isn’t so big that it would be considered a desktop replacement, but it is pretty heavy and having to walk around the streets of San Francisco with it on my shoulder starts to get old after a while.


What I’ve been doing for most nights over the last week is leaving my laptop in the office, and working on the bus and at home on the Chomebook. It is ideal because it is light weight, it is fast to use, and it lets me do most of the things I need to do these days, since I live in the browser. Keeping on top of email, keeping organised with my calendar, using AffinityLive for clients and work – it is all there.

Why can’t I do this with a tablet, you might be wondering? Well, I almost can. But the problem is the lack of a keyboard. Tablets are sexy and portable and trendy – I really really wanted to get on the bandwagon. I spent a Sunday afternoon getting my week organised and scheduled into my calendar a few weeks ago, and tried to use the tablet; just typing in the titles of meetings, and selecting start and end times was painful and horribly slow compared to the experience with the Chromebook. Win.


When you’re a road warrior, you really care about battery life. While San Francisco is much more supportive of the cafe office setup, with a lot more power jacks around, the need to plug in to get stuff done is at the very least an inconvenience.

With the Chromebook, I can get almost a day’s use out a single charge. Of course, I’m not using it as my primary machine, so I never use it for a full day; instead, it gets used on the bus ride to and from the office, on the couch when I need to reply to a few emails quickly or just check out the latest headlines on Techmeme, or anything else online. I’ve only needed to charge it once all week – not a bad effort at all.


Comparing to my experience with the Netbook – which is also super portable and runs a long time on a charge – the big advantage of the Chromebook is that it isn’t a pain in the arse. I don’t feel like I’ve gone back 15 years in technology, struggling to load pages, update textfield and go forbid use a website with modern technology like AJAX.

Instead, the Chromebook is super quick. It boots like lightening. It goes between tabs and processes super fast, and loads up even complicated web pages with lots of moving parts effortlessly. There are some times when I can tell it is more computationally challenged than my main laptop, but these times are few and far between, and generally speaking I’m probably taking the piss a little; dozens of tabs open, including some hard core things like Gmail and Google Calendar spread across close to half a dozen accounts.


This unit from Samsung was free as being part of the GooogleIO conference this year, but even so the promised pricing of these things is well below tablet land, and is very comparable with netbooks. So, you get the portability, power and price benefits of a netbook, but with much much higher performance and build quality.

And the build quality aspect is a big deal. The screen is one of the higher quality screens I’ve ever used; the fonts are crisp, the resolution is fantastic, and they keyboard – while missing a page up/down and home/end keys – is responsive, easy to use and of good quality too. Only the trackpad  lets it down, but with a USB port for a mouse if you want one, and the ability to turn on tap-to-click as well as using multi-finger gestures, it is still pretty good.

It Just Works

The last point is probably the most important. As a device, it needs to be online to be useful, but at least here in the US you can get 100MB of free 3G data with Verizon for two years. If you want to get another 1G of data per month – which is plenty unless you decide to use the cellular network for Pandora or YouTube – you’re only looking at $20. The signup process all happens inside the browser, and the device is smart enough to maintain both WiFi and 3G connections and to automatically pass traffic to the 3G network only when the WiFi isn’t available. For my Aussie friends, the good news is that there’s also a SIM card slot; I’m not 100% sure whether this model has both GSM and CDMA radios installed, but my guess is that it does.

And then there’s the user experience. I’ve been typing this blog post on the Chromebook on a bus, in a bar, and in a cafe. I’ve worked on it a bit more one my laptop. Every time I enter a few words, it auto-saves to the cloud. I pick up another machine, log in, and I’m off and running – it doesn’t matter the machine, the time or the place; it all just works. It is so refreshing and exciting to see.

So, in conclusion, I’d have to say I’m much more bullish and excited about what the Chromebook means for my work as a tool than I’ve been about a tablet. Sure, the tablets are sexy, and while I think they’ll probably make a much bigger impact on the industry than the Chromebook, I know personally that this device is much more relevant and valuable for me.

Solved – apache serving corrupted files via virtualbox vboxfs shares

TL;DR version: the 4.1 version of VirtualBox (or possibly more correctly, the VirtualBoxAdditions that provide the vboxfs) makes it impossible for Apache to correctly do its Kernel hand off, known as EnableSendfile. If you’re experiencing problems with files that are stored on a vboxfs share on your host not being served by Apache in your client, you need to find the EnableSendfile setting in httpd.conf and turn it OFF, and make sure you’ve installed/upgraded the version of the VirtualBox Additions that matches your VirtualBox version.

Virtualbox has to be one of the coolest free products out there for developers. We have a pretty hard core linux-based stack running AffinityLive, and for a full developer environment we need to have just the right setup of OS, libraries, code, apache, mysql, mongo, postfix, etc, etc, etc.

For our developers on Windows and Mac, trying to mirror this inside the O/S directly it almost impossible. While almost all of the constituent parts are there, the differences make it very unpleasant.

In the past we’ve “cheated” and used a shared dev server setup in the office, but it hurts the productivity of our team – every change to any code requires a save, commit with a message, then on the server side an update, and then potentially a Apache kick depending on how deep in the stack the change has been.

Enter Virtualbox. I spent a weekend at one point getting our production environment as cloned as possible into a CentOS client host, and mapped the bits we change a lot – our code – back to the host OS stored codebase, where programs like Eclipse are used to edit things. Now a developer just has to hit save on their local machine, and see the effect in their browser immediately; no more horrible triple handling. It means our staff can be more productive and take bigger risks, knowing if they bugger something up royally, they’re only going to piss themselves off, and not everyone else trying to work off a shared dev platform.

Then, this week, we had a problem. A bunch of the files that the Apache server in VBox hosts, which come from a file share on the host OS, were corrupted. CSS files with wacky binary content. Then, no images whatsoever. Losing our dev environment when things are so busy with the AffinityLive beta wasn’t an option – but unfortunately the solution took me almost a day to sort out, so I’m hoping this will help someone else save that time 😦

Step 1 – Update VirtualBox Additions

Virtualbox is a pretty actively maintained product, and recently they pushed version 4.1. What I didn’t realise every time I was saying “yes” to the upgrades is that I should also have been going through and upgrading the “virtualbox additions” – handy bits of functionality installed into the client OS.

The process for CentOS 5.5 clients on an underlying Windows host is:

  1. Start the client machine, and in the the window that shows you the machine booting/running, go to “Devices”, then “CD/DVD Devices” and then either VBoxGuestAdditions.iso and go to Step 3. If that option doesn’t exist, you’ll need to “Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file” and continue onto Step 2 below.
  2. The ISO you need to choose will likely be located at “c:program filesoraclevirtualboxVBoxGuestAdditions.iso”. Choose that file, and hit save.
  3. Then, go into the shell of the VirtualBox, either by logging into the console window, or by SSH’ing through Putty, etc.
  4. If you didn’t log in as “root”, you’ll need to change to be the root user by running “sudo su -“
  5. Then run the following: “mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom”
  6. Then go into that directory – “cd /mnt/cdrom” – and run “./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run”.
  7. This will then go through and update the version of addons that you have running; it may take a few minutes to complete depending on how much memory and CPU you’ve allowed your client machine use.
Doing this was enough to make my CSS files, for example, not corrupted and broken, but then working CSS exposed another problem – images weren’t working.

Step 2 – Turning off Apache’s EnableSendFile handoff

Apache has a cool performance feature when it comes to serving up static content; rather than opening the files it is hosting itself, it passes the process of grabbing and opening the files down to the Kernel, saving double handling essentially.

Unfortunately, it looks like version 4.1 of VirtualBox breaks this, causing plain text files to be delivered down the line in a binary format, and causing binary images to be treated as “not found” because the file delivered doesn’t match the content length. Super frustrating.

The solution is pretty easy to implement – just turn off this feature in Apache.

Edit the httpd.conf file, for example, by running (as root, or prefixed with sudo) “vi /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf”

Find the directive where EnableSendFile is set to “on”.

Change the “on” to “off”.

Save the file out, and then restart Apache.

Step 3 – Restart the client machine & test it

This is more a precautionary step, but the Step 1 upgrade of the VBoxAdditions, you should restart your client machine, in this case the Linux box. The easiest way, in the console window, is to go to “Machine” and then “Close” and then “Send the Shutdown Signal”.

Once it shuts down, you can start it again the normal way.

Once it has booted up, you can test by loading up your site in Apache, and seeing if it worked.

Good luck, and if you continue to have problems (or these instructions solve it for you), let me know in the comments.

On moving to 'The Valley'

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade, and I’ve been working in tech that entire time. But just this last week, I made the move. I now live in Silicon Valley.

Why do it, what does it mean for my life, my businesses and my team in Australia, and does it make me a traitor or a sellout to my pretty public ambitions to build the Aussie startup tech scene in general, and the scene in my home town of Wollongong in particular?

Why move, why now?

So, the first question is probably – why move? The answer is actually very simple and very rational – because I needed to.

Hiive Systems, the startup that I spun out of Internetrix a couple of years ago, needs the money, and this is where I’ve got the best chance of getting it. For the last couple of years, my co-founders and I have been developing and improving our product, AffinityLive, and over the last 6 months we’ve had it in public beta. We’ve been getting a lot of interest in the product, but so far we haven’t tried to market it at all. On startup parlance, we’ve been an engineering focused startup – of the 6 full time staff currently in Hiive Systems, 4.5 of them are developers.

But now it is time for us to take the product to market, and while it is a business product that our clients will pay real money for (and in some cases already do), we need to ramp up our costs to hire people who will be dedicated to sales and marketing and partner development and other non-engineering things. Oh, and as my team will tell you, we could certainly do with some more developers too!

Raising up to a million dollars in Australia for a high risk tech venture – and remember, they’re all high risk – is very hard work. I was at an excellent event called Funding Connect run by I&I and Slattery IT, and I was flabergasted that there were Australian angel investors there explaining that they funded Angel rounds for equity for $200K. Doing a round for equity – going through the negotiation around valuations, issuing stock, dealing with all the lawyer related costs – isn’t just time consuming; it also costs serious lawyer money, perhaps as much as 20% of the round.

Conversely, I’ve got friends who’ve raised over a million dollars in a week or two from angels without dealing with valuation or lawyer equity issues – they’ve used a form of debt called a convertible note, much more appropriate for early stage sub million dollar deals. Sure, they’re rockstars with exits and Y-Combinator cache, and I’m under no illusions that things will be quick or easy with what I’m doing – thanks very much, crazy world markets – but I know for sure my chances here are a lot better than back in Australia.

So, with the combination of a product coming out of public beta, increased capital requirements in the business and the reality being that the market here in Silicon Valley hasn’t been this favourable for raising money in a decade have all come together to make now the right time.

What does this mean?

Moving countries isn’t trivial. I mean, it is a lot easier in these days of broadband internet, Skype videoconferencing, smartphones and the rest of the technology that I’m into up to my eyeballs, but it still has some serious challenges.

On a personal level there’s the taking 10 steps back issue. In Wollongong I had a really nice house, I finally had it kitted out with all the stuff I needed, and Charlie Horse Dog and I had a good routine and things going on. Now I’m living out of a suitcase. I don’t know where I’ll be living next week, or next month. I don’t have an office yet either, so I’m now once again a digital nomad without much at all to his name other than a bag full of geekery and a stack of AffinityLive t-shirts.

On a professional note, it is also creating some challenges, but I’m lucky to have an absolutely awesome team in both Internetrix and Hiive Systems. My teammates are incredibly resourceful, show a lot of initiative and have a can do attitude that management consultants would give their right arm to bottle.

The Internetrix business has been more or less autonomous for a couple of years now under the leadership of Dan and Mike, and frankly when I get involved in client projects as anything more than a technical pinch hitter, things tend to end up the worse for it! Things are in great hands.

In the Hiive Systems business, there’s a real sense that this is our chance to do something on the world stage, and everyone is working hard to do their thing. Eamonn and Hugh are stepping up on the product direction front, Glenn is even more the head geek and code monkey than ever, Chris, even while travelling on a rare holiday with her family has been getting up at 3am to do code pushes before going fishing with the family. Another awesome highlight has been Crespo, who’s embrace of everything bold and Aussie is awesome and unparalleled – in his own words, he’s been up for “having a crack” at anything, and doing well at it.

So, what I’m hoping it means is that I can raise some money, hire a team for sales and marketing here in the US so our Aussie team doesn’t have to get up so damn early all the time (and I can get some more help for them on the engineering front back in Wollongong), and that I can throw some resources at growing the AffinityLive without continually raiding the retained profits of Internetrix (which has its own capital investing opportunities in Australia and mainland China).

Playing the long game

So what of selling out? Doesn’t packing up and moving to San Francisco to build the business mean I’ve given up on Australia as a great place to build a startup? Does turning my back on my home town make me a hypocrite, who tries to build a startup culture and evangelizes to get support from the most important institutions in the city, just to leg it just as it gets going?

My answer to all of that is: absolutely no f*cking way.

There are some massive advantages to building a technology startups in Australia, and even more in my home town of Wollongong. While Silicon Valley has a lot of advantages – you can meet someone at a party who can do a deal that makes your startup as a strategic partner, or get introduced to someone at a conference invests millions into your company – it has some serious disadvantages.

Silicon Valley is currently experiencing a massive technology skills shortage; even in the shadow of the dot com crash, the hunger for talent and ability to turn innovative ideas into fortunes was still present. Hiring an engineer/developer here is almost impossible, even more so now. Even in bad times when people aren’t in such demand, the amount of ‘bed hopping’ that goes on in this city is incredible; if you’re not moonlighting – which is kinda harmless and it is great to see smart people testing their hand and learning what works and what doesn’t – there’s a much bigger pressure in the Valley to keep on moving from gig to gig, up one small rung at a time.

While this can be great for people trying to get a start, or moving from a terrible graduate role to something personally fulfilling, it creates a massive problem for entrepreneurs. You’re trying to build a company, and often this means applying the lessons you’re learning in a cumulative fashion, particularly early on. You learn things, you make mistakes, and you keep making things better with each iteration, one improvement after another. Unfortunately, losing valuable talented staff every 6 weeks because Twitter is having a tough time to find someone to manage their spam queue – and your soon to be ex staff member thinks “‘hell having Twitter on your resume is da bomb” – makes it really hard to build, I don’t know, the next Twitter.

Thankfully, these sorts of problems are much less of an issue in Australia. We have a higher level of respect, loyalty and commitment on both “sides” of the employment relationship. And while I think generally that social construct is a bit bullshit and industrial revolution anyway, perpetuated by parasites who earn their living being confrontational for its own sake; in technology, the reality is that you really all are part of a team, and the meritocracy is alive and well, especially in a land with such healthy disrespect for authority.

In my home town of Wollongong, you’ve got some added adventures. I walked to the office today in 12 degrees Celsius winds, blowing at about 20 knots from the arctic, with fog and cloud rolling over the city down to about 200 feet. The sun didn’t come out until 3pm, and even then, Wollongong in winter, beside the sea with the golden beaches and beautiful green escarpment, has it all over this place. Our costs of living are much lower – I was paying $275 a week for a three bedroom house in Wollongong, and I’m about to start paying $650 a week for a single room in a three bedroom house here. Yep, you read that right.

When you’re a startup, and cash is king these lower costs are a real advantage. And while those of us in startup land unashamedly live to work, we also work to live – the ability to clear your head with a dip in the Pacific or a walk in the trees makes a real difference to your sanity.

So, in summary, there are massive advantages in doing a startup in Australia in general, and Wollongong in particular. Lower costs, better and more long term/meaningful teamwork with amazingly talented people, mean collectively that if you’ve got a good idea, good leadership and a lot of luck, you can build something world beating.

But, to really take on the world, you need to take on the best in the world. And sometimes that means being in Silicon Valley. And sometimes it just means taking it to them.

What does this mean for Australian entrepreneurship? I think that is the sweetest part. We’re not the cheapest place in the world. We’re certainly not close to big markets. We’re an ideal starting ground, proving ground, the place where ideas are hatched and great, world class companies can be built. Sure, while capital markets are immature, and distribution platforms mean you need to be near your customers/partners/acquiriers in most industries, the Valley will continue to act as a massive magnet. But I’m hoping – and I believe – that the secret to actually making a difference in the Aussie tech scene isn’t some protectionist, fence the place off mentality, but instead is to embrace the global market, global talent and global capital, and to provide the kinds of experiences, financial benefits and more to your founding team Down Under, so if it all works out they have the confidence to do it all again with their own venture, and if it doesn’t work out, odds are they’ll have been bitten by the bug, have learned the lessons from being close to the failure, and will try their own hand anyway.

This is what I mean by playing the long game. This is a multi-decade plan, which will only succeed with engagement, successes, exits and doing it all again. One startup, one entrepreneur, one great team at a time.

And that, more than any other reason is why I’ve moved to Silicon Valley. I can’t wait to see you all here, or in Australia, or somewhere else on this amazing, abundant and opportunity filled planet again. Soon.