Silicon dreams: 11 cities that want to be the next Palo Alto
By Amethyst Tate
/ CBS NEWS
Call in Silicon Envy -- All over the world, wherever software programmers have big enough dreams and an adequate supply of caffeine, tech-communities have tried to imitate the success of California's Silicon Valley. In some cases, such as New York's Silicon Alley, a critical mass of startups has indeed made its mark in cyberspace. Others, well, no so much. While Palo Alto will remain the center of the tech universe for the foreseeable future, here are a few of the serious, and not-so-serious, contenders for the silicon throne.
While Silicon Alley has never quite returned to the frenzied days of 1999 (and really, who has?), it is still a significant hub of innovation. Entrepreneurs such as David Karp, who launched Tumblr in 2007, and Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai are among the more recent stars of the Big Apple's new media scene. Originally extending south from the Flatiron building, Silicon Alley is now more diffuse, and represents a state of mind more than a neighborhood.
The downtown Washington D.C. area is quickly becoming a tech hub, thanks to tech companies such as LivingSocial, which sends daily deal coupons to subscribers. Investors in the site -- which raked in an estimated $1 billion in sales last year -- include Amazon.com.
Located in West Los Angeles, Silicon Beach has produced an array of Internet start-ups including Evite, Hulu, and Riot Games, and Google has built a campus in Venice. More than 500 tech start-ups have emerged from L.A., Venice, Santa Monica and surrounding areas.
Silicon Forest refers to an area in Washington County, Oregon, which boasts a number of high-technology firms such as mobile application company Urban Airship, which provides messaging and content delivery tools for mobile application development.
Austin, the capital of Texas, and home of South by Southwest, is recognized globally as a technology hub. Austin-based companies include the $1.5 billion integrated circuit designer Silicon Laboratories (SLAB), Multimedia Games (MGAM), and Ascendant Technology.
Silicon Valley of Zhongguancun
It should come as no surprise that a section of Beijing is a technology hub...but creativity that drives those companies apparently doesn't extend to names. Rather than come up with a new moniker (The Great Wall of Silicon? Silicon Road?), it is also named Silicon Valley. In a garden that covers 90 square miles, the Zhongguancun Science Park includes more than 20,000 companies, including 23 transnational corporations. One notable company is Beijing Vion Technology Inc, which specializes in the development of smart video analyzers that use artificial intelligence technologies.
Silicon Valley of India
India has a booming high-tech sector, but, like China, hasn't come up with an original name. India's own "Silicon Valley" is a $76 billion sector, according to Indian I.T. trade group, NASSCOM. With 500 start-up companies, India has emerged as a booming software hub, thanks to firms such as Zoho, which offers online web applications that compete with Microsoft Office and Google Docs.
Located around a busy roundabout in East London, this area of London has become a tech capital, which the British government pledged to support with 400 million pounds in funding. London-based startups include TribeSports, a social network for fitness buffs, and Songkick, a concert-tracking site that is one of the original Silicon Roundabout startups, and Lastfm.com, a music site now owned by CBS Interactive.
Originating in Cape Town but now spread more broadly across South Africa, Silicon Cape boasts companies such as Fundamo (now owned by Visa), which specializes in mobile phone-based financial services, and and MXit, a social network.
While known for its ski resorts, Utah has become a tech hub in recent years. Ski-bum flavored startups include Backcountry.com, an online retailer in Park City, which did nearly $300 million in sales in 2011 and Skullcandy, which makes designer headphones for snowboarders and other winter sports enthusiasts, and is now worth about $400 million.
In both Hebrew and Arabic, "wadi" means canyon or gorge -- or, in this case, valley -- but Israel's technology cluster is located in the densely populated areas of metropolitan Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. Most of the output of Israel is in software and telecommunications products, and Israel is particularly strong in wireless technology. Companies based in this tech hub include Contendo, a start-up that provides Internet acceleration services and was sold at the end of last year to Akamai for $268 million.