Neighborhood Profile: Silicon Beach

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Strung along four miles of coast from Santa Monica and Venice to Playa Vista and Westchester, the Silicon Beach tech area first emerged when a handful of small startups moved south to flee the high rents and heavy competition of San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. Now, just a few years later, it’s widely considered the second- or third-largest tech hub in the world, home to more than 700 companies.

Success hasn’t wilted the pioneering Silicon Beach spirit. In addition to major players like Snap, Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, BuzzFeed, Facebook and Electronic Arts, Silicon Beach is home to over 500 tech startups. No wonder once-dismissive Northern California venture capitalists regularly venture south in search of promising new deals. John Aaroe Group and our Northern California Pacific Union offices now regularly assist clients moving between the two tech kingdoms.

Most Silicon Beach workers want to live near their workplaces and walk or bike to the office. This has sparked a sharp rise in home prices — and real estate brokers are seeing a new influx of cash ahead following the recent successful IPO of Snap, the parent company of Snapchat. As home prices continue to climb, nearby neighborhoods like El Segundo and Manhattan Beach to the south and Culver City and Mar Vista to the east are finding new fans.

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A mixed-use urban community called Playa Vista is also welcoming tech employees. Located on what was once Howard Hughes’ aerospace empire, it first unveiled residential units in 2002. Today, about 5,900 of a planned 6,046 residential units are completed. At nearby office complex The Campus, 5,500 employees work for companies like YouTube, Yahoo, IMAX and more. Once Google and other companies move in, that number is expected to jump to 10,000 employees, all seeking homes nearby.

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While Silicon Beach is a household name in global tech circles, some think its power has long outstripped its name. “We don’t need a moniker,” says Mark Suster, a general partner at Upfront Ventures, LA’s biggest and oldest venture capital firm. “We’re Los Angeles. We’re the second-largest city in the country.”