The Best Places in the World to be a Coder
Learning how to program can open doors to places that you had never dreamed of traveling to before, or maybe even working in! There are a number of places that take the cake when it comes to tech scenes.
Easy. It just is the place to be when it comes to technology. Silicon Valley took 40.2% of all of the venture capital deals in the United States in 2012. The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 from Project Genome (SER) states that a “pay it forward” mentality is the greatest upside of the Valley, while the insanely competitive search for talent is the greatest downside.
Of startups, 73% are making web application, and 17% are making mobile application. In terms of the most used programming languages in the Valley, 28% of startups are using Ruby, 22% are using PHP, 18% are using Python, and 17% are using Java. Interestingly, Silicon Valley is a very spread out area, such that new arrivals are sometimes disillusioned from their originally magical view of the place. Yes, there is hustle going down, but you don't always see it because of the spread. Also, housing is extremely expensive. San Francisco is usually considered the third most expensive place to live in the United States, with average rent set around $3,000 per month for a two bedroom.
If you are willing to stomach the potential difficulties of the city and its outrageous prices, expect to make a significantly higher salary than in other cities, get more job offers and work with the latest technologies.
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This city is absolutely exploding with startup energy. Monty Munford of Mashable states that “Everybody seems to be the founder of some new venture, and networking events take place every day, on top of weekend hackathons.” Everything is tech and startup and people trying to get something going. As a whole, it is a smaller marketplace than most, but the companies in Tel Aviv are often quickly acquired, making for “faster, frequent exits”. The downsides?
Tel Aviv may not currently have any bootcamps
Although NYC has half the number of startups as Silicon Valley, it “is the second largest ecosystem for software startups in terms of absolute output” and “has been the fastest-growing technology startup ecosystem in the country over the past 10 years”. NYC is also prime for startups with a focus on e-commerce, media, fashion and advertising. Shafqat Islam, founder of NewsCred, states, “New York happens to be home to every major industry, making it a huge draw when it comes to running a company...Where else can you have eight meetings in a day with the biggest companies in every sector and still make it home for dinner?”
Shafqat also says that while in Silicon Valley almost everyone is in technology, when you leave the office in NYC you find yourself in an extremely diverse crowd of people. Interestingly, NYC is less focused on selling B2B, and more on consumer sales. There is a significant amount of capital going into NYC from venture capitalists; the $2.6 billion invested in 2013 in New York makes its startup ecosystem 87 percent larger than that of Massachusetts according to Tech Crunch, depending on what metrics you use. New York city has drawbacks too. It is the most expensive place to live in America, and, like Tel Aviv, is slow on the technology uptake, and still using more PHP and .NET.
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You gotta be wicked smaht if you want to cut it in Boston. While Silicon Valley has 2.5 people with a Masters or PhD to every 1 college dropout, the ratio is 6:1 in Boston. MIT, Harvard, and a lot of other historic schools have led to it receiving the nickname “The Athens of America”.
Startups in Boston are 24% more likely than those in Silicon to receive funding. This could be because it has an excellent source of venture capitalists, attracted by the significant talent and quality products that those engineers produce. All of these factors combine to make Kendal Square one of the tech epicenters of the world. One entrepreneur states that “Boston is #1 in biotech, #2 in high tech and top 3 in medical devices, energy technology, materials & environmental science, robotics, etc. This is fueled by the large number of top universities and by the diversified New England economy”.
It is also a great place for startups because it has a number of large startup accelerators, such as MassChallenge, Lab Central, Bolt, and Greentown Labs, as well as the push to open up the Innovation District near Boston Seaport to more startups. For that reason, tech provided more jobs in MA in 2013 than any other industry. To quote the Boston Globe, “These are boom times for the innovation economy in Boston and Cambridge”.
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London, dubbed “Tech City”, where tech is primarily located around Old Street and Stratford, its center being the Shoreditch area, is a hub of startup activity. In fact, “London has burst onto the scene and has become the most successful Startup Ecosystem in Europe, producing the largest output of startups in the European Union by far.” Part of its growing success is that American companies often choose London as a starting point for expanding their market into Europe. There are also a number of startup incubators, notably BBC labs and TechStars.
One benefit of starting up in London is that the UK has made it incredibly easy to officially start a business. As one entrepreneur notes, “a company can be registered online within 5 minutes and VAT registration takes another 10 minutes. Renting traditional offices can be expensive but with the prevalence of shared work spaces and tech incubators, it’s not hard to find a reasonably priced office.” A downfall of the London startup scene is that it is more risk-averse than other markets. However, founders have an excellent mindset, with their focus on changing the world. London also uses older technologies more often, such as PHP, used by 50% of companies, as opposed to Ruby, used by 13% of London tech startups, and Python (8%).
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For a relatively small city, with a population of just under six million, Toronto is growing rapidly in the startup scene. The scene has some interesting demographics, with a 1 to 1.4 ratio of company founders being college dropouts to those with masters and PHD's. Findings show that Canadian entrepreneurs have a near ideal startup mentality.
In fact, large tech companies (all the big ones) have been attracted to the scene as has been talent from other areas of the globe. When TechCrunch visited the MaRS Discovery Project, a 700,000 square foot tech and startup environment, they realized what a burgeoning place Toronto is on the techdar. With 30% of Canada's information and communications tech workforce, Toronto “enjoys an exceptional 95.9 per cent employment rate and an average annual wage of $64,725”. The founder of one company points out that if “you think about Facebook, Google, all of the big Valley companies – most of them were started out of the universities. It’s the talent from the engineering schools that fuelled the tech scene in Silicon Valley”. With nearby schools like University of Toronto, Queen’s University and University of Waterloo, Toronto is similar to Boston in that it has a nearby talent pool from which to fish. Not to flog a dead horse, but Toronto just might deserve the nickname “Silicon Valley North”.
An unfortunate reality for the Toronto market is that it employs a lower number of people per funding stage than many other startup scenes, largely because the scene is somewhat lacking in funding/investors at its various levels. As one more pessimistic blogger notes, “Toronto is a strange startup town. Sort of like New York, but without any of the VC money. High cost of living; without the salaries that come with it.” However, as the growth trend continues, these negative factors will almost certainly balance out.
Bitmaker Labs, BrainStation, hackerYou
Vancouver consistently wins awards for “Best City in the World” and “Most Beautiful City in the World”, and their license plates read “Beautiful British Columbia”. The tech scene is also exploding with growth. Entrepreneurs here are extremely hard working, and seriously underfunded. The focus is very much on mobile, with 30% focusing on mobile compared with 17% in Silicon Valley, and only 58% focusing on web startups compared with 73% in SV. A recent article notes that the “old mix of mining stock promoters taking liquid lunches at the Marble Arch and tattooed gym rats of dubious profession in Hummers is being replaced by skinny jeans and Macbook Pros...at restaurants here you are as likely to encounter a terrine of duck foie gras or pan fried veal sweetbreads as you are a Subway sandwich. The rents, while still cheaper than tony Yaletown, are climbing”. Perhaps the high rent is worth it, with average salaries among programmers on the rise.
One startup notes the difficulties of hiring, since “Vancouver’s tech talent crunch is no longer looming – it is already here, and it is particularly pronounced for small, low-profile tech startups that are competing” with much larger companies, and even the larger companies are noticing the shortages of talent. A lot of tech accelerators have a presence in the city as well, including GrowLab, InstituteB, Wavefront and VentureLabs. For a very engaging, visual representation of Vancouver's tech history and scene, it is worth visiting www.visualcapitalist.com/tech-vancouver-timeline-infographic/ .
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Paris has seen massive transformation in its tech scene, with major business schools offering accelerators, and a shift in the mindset of many Gen-Xers towards a more entrepreneurial spirit. Many have noticed this shift in France towards technology, with billionaire Xavier Niel sponsoring 1,000 students to join a three year intensive program where they will intensely learn computer science, as well creating a startup incubator for 1,000 startups. There are a number of other startup accelerators to choose from, such as Le Camping and TheFamily. Paris is also home to some of the world's greatest universities, such as H.E.C., École Normale Supérieure, École Polytechnique and EMLYON, leading to the 97% of founders who have a Masters or PhD versus the 42% in Silicon Valley.
Similar to many of the cities in the top twenty, the main problem with the Parisian tech scene is a lack of funding, and Forbes estimates that “a start-up that raises $10 million for a Series A in the US, would raise $500,000 in France”. Accordingly, “Paris startups raise 95% less capital in stage 3 (Efficiency Stage) and 91% less capital in stage 4 (Scale Stage) than SV startups”, and are mainly self-funded, or funded by family members or incubators.
This lack of funding has caused Startup Genome to note that one of Paris's major setbacks is its failure to attract talent from abroad. This is of huge significance, since “first-generation immigrants were on the founding teams of roughly 52% of all tech companies in Silicon Valley”, and at least one out of six entrepreneurs in America is a first-generation immigrant. One Parisian entrepreneur notes that the mindset is good, but still needs to be pushed to expect greater things when he states that “we still need VCs who will tell entrepreneurs [that they want them to] disrupt the whole industry and build the next Groupon, the next Foursquare, the next Facebook". Furthermore, Paris is behind on technology, with few entrepreneurs using Ruby and even fewer using Python (the majority are using .NET, followed by C++ and PHP). One TechCrunch writer optimistically points to Paris' future, saying it is where NYC was a few years ago, and just needs time to grow.
Paris may not currently have any bootcamps
Sydney and Melbourne combined account for over three quarters of tech startup founders and venture capitalists for all of Australia. There have been huge amounts of government spending, matched by industry leaders, in order to attract talent and create jobs, but the technological advancement has come largely from the inside. As a result, "Sydney will be Australia's global gateway for innovative new industries that create tens of thousands of new high-tech, high paid jobs of the future and add billions to export revenues with three new industry partnerships in the growth sectors of transport, financial services and ICT.” The optimism is well founded.
A number of startups from Sydney have gone public, and there are many with huge user bases. Furthermore, Australia has many of the building blocks of a tech hub, such as incubators and co-working spaces, as well as meetups. Even more importantly, Australia ranked first out of the 20 top tech hubs for “trendsetter index”, a metric that Project Genome states might be the “leading indicator of the future success of a startup ecosystem”, that “measures how quickly a startup ecosystem adopts new technologies, management processes, and business models.
Where startup ecosystems that stay on the cutting edge are expected to perform better over time,” Australian techies seem to innovate quickly. The New South Wales government notes that Australian techies have an “openness and flexibility” which “can mean that the product is wildly innovative and in a position to catalyze a whole market, causing a paradigm shift” and many businesses to set up in Australia, including “Amazon Web Services, Williams Sonoma, Havas, Twitter and many more.”
Furthermore, Sydney has one of the strongest talent pools out of all the tech hubs. There are a number of excellent universities in Sydney, which partly explains why entrepreneurs in Sydney have similar levels of Masters and PhD education. The main complaints about the city are, of course, a lack of funding. One venture capitalist comments that “We have an urgent need for capital in the Efficiency stage. At this stage of the startup lifecycle there is practically no investment happening and companies are failing for the wrong reasons. We are seeing signs of life here but have a long way to go.” Ideally, Sydney will see an increase in funding as it continues to output highly creative products.
As a city, it is one of the best places to live, in terms of lifestyle, and worst in terms of cost. Consumer prices are about 15% higher than in San Francisco, and many of the other costs are comparable. The only big saver is on rent, which is made up by the freakishly high costs of utilities. While the minimum wage in Sydney is currently over $16.85 per hour, a software engineering position will on average pay a lower rate ($73850) than a job in Boston ($80,826) or San Francisco ($100,641). Either way, as the locals of Sydney would put it, “No worries, she'll be alright”.
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One of the largest cities in the world, a country that is booming with activity and boasting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, is also a top ten tech hub. Sao Paulo hosts many of the coolest, highest tech companies in the world, including Google, AirBnB, and BuscaPe, and is fostering a large number of startups through co-working spaces such as Startup Mansion and Pto de Contato.
Furthermore, one founder states that “since it’s the economy hub, it has a larger supply of entrepreneurs, MBAs, financial analysts, and investors”. Whether it's the weather or the huge economic growth that Sao Paolo is seeing, something about the market is attracting the right talent and the right investment. After seeing huge “economic change with the rise of the lower income classes that generates a massive consumer market that will evolve over the next 10 or 20 year”, Sao Paulo has the potential to continue its high growth rate. This means more business opportunity for technology startups.
Sao Paulo's main issue lies in its scattered “ecosystem”. You don't have the same sense of ingenuity and creation and the feeling that all of the parts and businesses are interconnected. In fact, commuting is a huge issue in Brazil and can take hours because of the congestion.
Sao Paulo may not currently have any bootcamps