Monday, June 16, 2008

East coast vs. West Coast

There is no getting away from it in the US, there is the East coast and the West coast, and they are quite different when it comes to CTOs (in my opinion). This gross generalization can be easily shot down, but let me move ahead anyway. West coast CTO = super-tech ex-developer. East coast CTO = less tech but very business focused.

Have I offended anyone yet? Not my intention. My point is that we don't see a lot of transporting of CTOs between the coasts. But I love it every time I get to visit and do business in San Francisco/Silicon Valley. I have the same experience each time, technology rocks there. What I find myself doing is figuring out how to take West coast learnings back to the East coast. There's an easiness/flow to technology development on the West coast which is hard to find back east (along with a little more risk-taking).

As an East coast CTO, you should take every chance you can get to visit the West coast. My first-ever US trip (in the 80s) was to Silicon Valley, and that was my main reason for deciding to move to the US. I "missed" my mark and landed in NYC, but no regrets.

And talking about moving coasts, I am extremely happy to announce that New York got one of its finest back recently, Curtis Brown, the new CTO at Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions (my previous job), formerly CTO at McGraw-Hill/CTB in Monterey. Curtis is the quintessential New York CTO who combines tech know-how with business-savvy. Kaplan will excel under Curtis, and we New York CTOs welcome him back to "our" coast.

1 comment:

Tim O'Brien said...

It isn't just a difference at the CTO level. While I think developers across all regions can be equally capable, I find developers on the East Coast to be a bit more pragmatic than developers on the West Coast. Perhaps this has something to do with the (negative) influence of VC money and the constant push to move on to the "next thing".

The programmers I know in New York are more pragmatic, (but this might just be my own personal bias). If you ask me, silicon valley should still be on 128 around Boston.