Entrepreneurs, techies gather for SF Tech Crawl


A guy in an astronaut suit led a group of young techies and entrepreneurs up San Francisco's Market Street Friday morning.

Despite the outfit, Myles Weissleder doesn't work for NASA. He's the guy who runs SF New Tech, the monthly gathering that's like speed dating for startups. But this is something different because it's the new tech "crawl."

"It's uh much in the theme of a pub crawl," Weissleder said.

Making their way from one startup to the next, these coders and entrepreneurs are witnessing a trend. New companies of the sort that used to start in Silicon Valley are now sprouting up in San Francisco.

"The number of companies that are funded in the rest of Silicon Valley and the Peninsula is gradually going down and the number of startups funded in San Francisco is gradually going up," Sigma West venture partner Josh Breinlinger said.

It's so pronounced that after 30 years on Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road, venture capital firm Sigma West packed up and moved to San Francisco.

"More than half of the deals in Silicon Valley, the larger Silicon Valley now are done in San Francisco. I mean you could say in a way San Francisco has really become the capital of Silicon Valley," Sigma West Managing Director Greg Gretsch said.

And when it comes to why, Weissleder doesn't sugarcoat it.

"Everybody in the valley wants to be in the city because in the valley, it's really, there's a lot of great work being done there, but it's really friggin' boring," he said. "You can almost hear that sucking noise of people leaving the valley, coming up to San Francisco."

Part of that trend is shared workspaces that are springing up all over the city's South of Market District, places where startups work shoulder to shoulder with other startups.

"We don't want to be just a space, we want to be a place for people to get together," one entrepreneur said.

It's a place to play ping pong and maybe a place to meet your new co-founder.

"With all these people and all these great things happening in this small concentrated area, you have the opportunity for little sparks to fly that wouldn't happen otherwise," Gretsch said.

The city has taken notice. In fact, the mayor's office is partly responsible for the new tech crawl.

And you can bet another one is just around the corner.

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