Getting started starting up.

There’s one funny bit in the history of starting up Directed Edge: I have no idea when I decided to do it. I don’t really know when the idea first crept into my head seriously to start a company. I did a little reconnaissance on my e-mail and file archives and put together some of the critical moments:

  • October 25th, 2005: Mailed Paul Graham asking about books on startups
  • July 1st, 2006: Moved from working at the SAP LinuxLab in Walldorf, Germany to Native Instruments in Berlin
  • January 29th, 2008: Ordered “Competitive Strategy” and “Harvard Business Review on Entrepreneurship”
  • February 5th, 2008: Joined Hacker News
  • February 19th, 2008: Ordered “Founders at Work” and “Fundamentals of Database Systems”
  • February 28th, 2008: Last edit to list of 31 possible startup ideas
  • February 29th, 2008: Asked Valentin if he’d like to co-found
  • April 3rd, 2008: Notified boss at Native Instruments that I’d be leaving at the end of June
  • April 16th, 2008: Ordered “Art of the Start”
  • April 23rd, 2008: Went to first local founders event (Business & Beer)
  • March 4th, 2008: Started our intranet wiki to begin organizing thoughts
  • March 8th, 2008: Registered directededge.com
  • March 13th, 2008: Sent mail to LUG where I’d gone to college asking if any other alums had founded companies
  • March 13th, 2008: Got German permanent residence (meaning I didn’t need a normal job to continue living here)
  • May 23rd, 2008: Went to TechCrunch Meetup Prague
  • June 11th, 2008: Went to TechCrunch Meetup Berlin
  • June 20th, 2008: Attended Mini-Seedcamp Berlin with Valentin
  • June 27th, 2008: Full-time on Directed Edge

It was a little surprising to me that I’d apparently thought over starting a startup as early as 2005.  That was, notably, only a few months before I quit at SAP, and getting the itch to move on was presumably the trigger. That went into remission once I was settled in Berlin and working for Native Instruments.  I don’t remember when, exactly, I started entertaining the idea seriously. Certainly for most of my time at Native Instruments, I was not. It would appear that circa January 2008, with the prospect of German permanent residence at hand, that I began the motions of learning more about what it would take.

It’s also hard to self-evaluate and say if I moved slowly or quickly — obviously I’d been toying with the idea for 3 years by the time I went full-time, but from starting real research to giving notice at work was only two months.

Having done the research, I thought I’d make it here, both to preserve it for memory-lane and on the odd chance that it’s interesting for anyone else.

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Only 6 of the 20 largest software companies are in Silicon Valley

So after Fred’s post caused a little bit of a stir in the blogosphere by downplaying some of the advantages for startups being in Silicon Valley, and being from a Berlin-based startup that’s out exploring the Silicon Valley vibe this month it set me to wondering — just where have most of the “great” software companies been started?

Forbes has a list of the 2000 largest public companies, so I went through and picked out the top 20 and noted their locations.  Here’s the list:

  1. IBM, New York
  2. Microsoft, Washington
  3. Oracle, California
  4. Google, California
  5. Softbank, Japan
  6. SAP, Germany
  7. Accenture, Bermuda
  8. Computer Sciences Corporation, Virginia
  9. Yahoo, California
  10. Capgemini, France
  11. Computer Associates, New York
  12. Tata Consultancy Services, India
  13. Infosys Technologies, India
  14. Fiserv, Wisconson
  15. Wipro, India
  16. Symantec, California
  17. Adobe Systems, California
  18. Affiliated Computer Services, Texas
  19. Activision Blizzard, California (non-Valley)
  20. Intuit, California

Notably, 7 are based in California (all but one in the Bay Area).  On the one hand, it certainly is far and away ahead of any other location (Bangalore, interestingly, being its closest competitor); on the other it shows a wider distribution of companies than one might assume.  I’ll leave further conclusions as an exercise for the reader.

Update:

I realized after publishing this that I’d used the 2007 numbers rather than those from 2009.  The number of companies in Silicon Valley remained the same.

2007 Numbers:

1. IBM, New York
2. Microsoft, Washington
3. Oracle, California
4. Google, California
5. SAP, Germany
6. First Data, Colorado
7. Electronic Data Systems, Texas
8. Softbank, Japan
9. Yahoo, California
10. Symantec, California
11. Computer Sciences Corporation, Virginia
12. Capgemini, France
13. Tata Consultancy Services, India
14. Fiserv, Wisconson
15. Adobe Systems, California
16. Infosys Technologies, India
17. Computer Associates, New York
18. Wipro, India
19. Affiliated Computer Services, Texas
20. VeriSign, California
  1. IBM, New York
  2. Microsoft, Washington
  3. Oracle, California
  4. Google, California
  5. SAP, Germany
  6. First Data, Colorado
  7. Electronic Data Systems, Texas
  8. Softbank, Japan
  9. Yahoo, California
  10. Symantec, California
  11. Computer Sciences Corporation, Virginia
  12. Capgemini, France
  13. Tata Consultancy Services, India
  14. Fiserv, Wisconson
  15. Adobe Systems, California
  16. Infosys Technologies, India
  17. Computer Associates, New York
  18. Wipro, India
  19. Affiliated Computer Services, Texas
  20. VeriSign, California

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