From 1997-2001, I lived in San Jose and Palo Alto. So I'm really familiar with the area. Even after I moved away in late 2001, I visited often. In the formative days of Punchbowl, I was a frequent visitor to the Bay area. Thankfully, I have a cousin that lives right in the city. With a free place to stay (thanks Cara!), I found myself in the valley at least 3-4 times a year. However, ever since Punchbowl raised our Series A round, I haven't visited the area. It's hard to believe, but before this past week, the last time I was in Silicon Valley was May of 2008.
As the CEO of a consumer-internet start-up, it's great fun spending some time in the area. Here's a quick list of things that I saw on my quick trip to Silicon Valley:
- My first stop in California is always In and Out Burger. If you haven't tasted a Double-Double, put that on your next Silicon Valley agenda.
- Driving down 101 South is like a history lesson in the boom and bust of the dotcom era. My favorite building is the monstrosity that once housed Excite@Home. I was pleased to see that it's now a extension of Stanford University hospital.
- The University Avenue exit for Palo Alto has changed so much since I first lived in Palo Alto. It's great to see the thriving economy in East Palo Alto (complete with an IKEA). Dammit, I knew we should have purchased a house in EPA.
- One of events I attended was at the Four Seasons in East Palo Alto. The parking lot of the Four Seasons is an audacious display of wealth. Wow, two Lamborghinis in the same parking lot?
- I love the billboards along Highway 101. Just north of the airport I saw a giant billboard for Zynga (the Facebook game company). I guess when you raise $100M+, that's what you do with the money!
- Regardless of how many times I've seen it, the Bay Bridge is always breathtaking. It's sheer size is awesome and I love being able to drive right underneath it on the Embarcadero. In my opinion, San Francisco is the most beautiful city in the world (yes, that includes Sydney, Australia and lots of cities I've seen in Europe)
- One of my meetings was down near Fisherman's Wharf. I snapped a picture of the Bay with Alcatraz in the foggy background. Until this trip, I had no idea that there were office buildings near the piers. What a great setting to have an office.
- I love how there are so many start-ups in the same building. I walked into one specific office, and look at all of the different internet start-ups are in the same building! Neat.
That's just a quick list of the things I saw this past week in Silicon Valley. It's always refreshing to visit the hub of the Internet. This trip was no exception.