Leaving Silicon Valley

Tom Paine

Houston campus when completed Source: HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of the successor companies to the original Hewlett-Packard Co., which was the very archetype of Silicon Valley’s iconic image, is picking up its headquarters and moving east to Houston. The original company, founded in 1939 in a Palo Alto garage, began by building electronic instruments used in the World War II effort.

Stories are beginning to multiply of companies and individuals leaving the Valley for emptier fields, spurred on by the high cost of living and less need of geographic proximity because of the Covid-19 effect.

An individual case is that of Rob Hayes, one of the earliest partners of First Round Capital, dating back to 2006. Hayes built much of First Round’s west coast presence, and is credited with its investments in Uber (one of the most successful in VC history), Square and Mint. In 2018 he announced he was stepping back from his investing partner role to being a board partner, which would give him more flexibility .

Recently I picked up on Twitter that Hayes was in Philadelphia, having apparently moved his family there. I reached out to him on LinkedIn but haven’t received a response. . Rob is a west coast person as far as I can tell, getting his undergrad degree from Cal Berkeley. He came east to attend Columbia Business School, where he received an MBA and currently serves on its Board of Overseers. I don’t have a clue why he is living in Philly, and whether it has something to do with First Round. But being drawn to Philly is opposite to the usual route.