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Silicon Valley ‘forgets the rest of the world exists'

Jennifer Scott

Silicon Valley needs to start thinking globally when it comes to its products, rather than just focusing on local tech businesses, claims one leading California entrepreneur.

This was the belief of Andrew Lee, CTO and co-founder of Firebase, a software-as-a-service company which provides code for clients and removes the need for the server-layer code between the device and the database. It is used by a number of firms in the US, such as CBS, for developing web applications and increasingly mobile apps.

Although praising area, with its wealth of talent, contacts and technology companies nearby to entice to buy the product, Lee admitted Silicon Valley was very inward looking.

“People here tend to forget the rest of the world exists,” he said. “They can then build products that are just suitable for the techie freaks in Silicon Valley, rather than for anyone outside.”

He also admitted it was an expensive place to set up shop, with the cost of hiring people higher than elsewhere. However, the benefits far outweighed the negatives.

“If we were in London, we would be thousands of miles away from customers… [unlike now] where I can either walk to their offices or get on a train for 30 minutes,” he said.

“Then there is the time difference and there are just more people here involved. Plus we get to meet those people at social events and get to know them before we even pitch them.

“I was living in Southern California and it took me a lot of convincing to come up here… but now I am I know it is the right place for the company.”

The other co-founder and CEO of Firebase, James Tamplin, is from Reading in the UK. The firm announced last week it had secured $5.6m of venture capitalist funding, bringing its total to $7m since it began three years ago.

Firebase now plans to expand its seven-strong engineer team with the money as well as add additional features to its beta product. However, it will be some time before it breaks into the UK as it needs to go through Safe Harbor accreditation before companies consider entrusting it with their data.  


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