Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ann Arbor Tech Scene

The Ann has a good long read about Ann Arbor's tech scene. I think it's pretty exciting that it seems like the region is doing a better job retaining some of the talent that U of M produces. Here's an excerpt:
Ann Arbor has a long way to go before it becomes the next Silicon Valley. Grover says locals startups typically sell to larger firms for $150 million to $300 million. That’s respectable, but far less than the wealth that came from Dell, for instance, which transformed Austin. Having a company like that “would completely change Ann Arbor,” he said.

Lindsay Aspegren, a general partner in North Coast Technology Investors, agrees that Ann Arbor needs a recognizable public company to put it on the map. “Ann Arbor in the tech world is not something that really pops into the forefront of people’s minds when they think of success,” he says.

Tim Petersen, managing director of Arboretum, says the city needs more companies with “meaningful exits,” adding, “We need to encourage the Dug Songs of the world to stay here and start more companies.” Song has no plans to leave, but he agrees that he’s one of the few entrepreneurs focused on building the high-tech community here. “In Silicon Valley, being an angel investor is a badge of honor,” he said. “We need folks who care enough to roll back in and contribute.”

He says too many who have benefitted financially from starting high-tech companies aren’t getting involved in the next wave of innovation. In Silicon Valley, he says, the atmosphere is exuberance, with the feeling that anyone can be a millionaire; here, the culture feels more adversarial.

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