Why Would You Leave Florence During the Renaissance?

on 08 | 03 | 2011

Posted by: Nelson Smith

I’ve been a headhunter for almost 13 years and have experienced an entire economic cycle come full circle – from the boom of the late-1990’s, the bust times marked by the post-bubble era (2001-2003), the financial crisis (2008-2009) and now closing the loop and returning to the prosperity and growth that we are witnessing today.

Historically, tectonic shifts in technology occur approximately every 12-15 years. Think back to the introduction of the PC in the early 1980’s led by Microsoft, the Internet revolution of the mid-1990’s (led by companies like Netscape and Google) and then the following devastation of the dot-com meltdown. Fast forward to 2011 with the convergence of content, community and commerce leading the current wave of innovation.  As history would suggest, I have not seen activity in the Valley this vibrant and robust since 1999.  To coin a phrase routinely spoken by one of my colleagues, “Why would you leave Florence during the Renaissance?”

Obviously, social media is leading the parade all the way up the San Francisco Peninsula and onto Wall Street, as evidenced by LinkedIn’s wildly successful IPO. Following suit, Groupon is currently pending and Zynga, Twitter and Facebook (at a whopping $100B valuation), are all waiting in the wings. Swirling around these behemoths are byproducts consisting of new peripheral technologies and startups, filling in a multitude of supplemental white spaces (such as hyper-targeted analytics, next-generation data center products, etc.)… net-net, innovation is breeding innovation and fueling new growth.

So what does all this mean to our community?

  • To the Entrepreneur: Now is the time to strike while the iron is white hot.  VCs are investing again, the economy is improving and new markets are rapidly emerging.  If you’ve ever had the idea to launch something of your own, now is the time.
  • To the Talent: There has never been a better time to seriously pull your head up and explore this opportunity-laden marketplace.  I’m sure your phone is ringing; it’s time to pick it up and listen.
  • To Companies/CEOs: Great people make great companies and the war for talent is fiercely competitive again.  Be decisive and move swiftly to secure the right talent to build your company.
  • To VCs: You folks are in the most interesting and challenging position.  VC investments “power” innovation but how do you keep valuations in the world of reality when technology markets are trending upward so quickly?  Another downturn is inevitable, but let’s “not party like its 1999” again… nobody wants another hang-over of that magnitude.

Remember, timing is everything… Carpe Diem! Let’s all stay in the moment and savor this Renaissance period here in the Bay Area, (aka Firenze during the 15th century)… Bellissimo!