Tag Archives: santa cruz tech beat

2015 a broadband breakout year for California’s central coast

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Santa Cruz Tech Beat, for which I sometimes write, published its picks for top stories of 2014. It’s a good list and takes a holistic view of the local tech scene and economy. Looking ahead, I think the ground work that was done this year will drive next year’s success. So, my predictions for the top local broadband stories of 2015 are…

3 – Sunesys fiber line breaks ground
The $10.6 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission was justified by the benefit delivered to the Salinas Valley — which is substantial, real and sufficient grounds for spending the money. But the most immediate benefit – maybe as soon as 2015 – is likely to be felt in Santa Cruz County, along the Soquel Drive corridor. Surfnet has approval for two Monterey County projects. Cruzio has publicly discussed its intention to use the Sunesys fiber to bring fast Internet to businesses and institutions along the way. The fiber will help light up Watsonville’s muni fiber too – see below. Huge credit goes to Brad Smith and Jim Warner at U.C. Santa Cruz. They had a lot of help from the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, but bottom line, they’re the guys that got it done.

2 – Santa Cruz County broadband policy initiative becomes reality.
Locally, 2014 has been a year more of delay than progress for the effort to rewrite Santa Cruz County’s broadband infrastructure development policies. But that’s often the way new public policy initiatives go – the first to go down a road tread carefull. The good news is there’s an increasingly long line of other agencies, here on the central coast, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in California, that are falling in behind, happy to let Santa Cruz County walk point but ready to jump in when the time is right.

Add in the fact that several projects are in the pipeline for 2015 and should also get a boost from the new rules, and the impact will be stunning.

1 – The local tech economy booms.
The emphasis by local governments on cutting red tape for companies and broadband projects alike, combined with fiber backbone projects in Watsonville and Hollister, the existing Suneys line between Santa Cruz and Santa Clara, and the extension to Soledad mentioned above, will stoke the already hot technology scene. Looker’s expansion in downtown Santa Cruz, the mysterious Magic Leap virtual reality project there as well and the beginnings of a tech youth movement in Watsonville are just three examples.

Tech development goes where broadband flows, and broadband is flooding into the central coast. That’ll drive the news in 2015.

Then there’s the unpredictable: the best things tomorrow almost certainly will be things we have no way of knowing about today.

Happy New Year!

Santa Cruz culture gives tech start ups a competitive edge

Santa Cruz inspires Tomfoolery.

“The culture of community is Santa Cruz’s greatest export,” said Sol Lipman, one of three local entrepreneurs speaking at an event Thursday evening celebrating the growth and innovation of the local tech scene.

Sol is the founder of Tomfoolery, a start up that’s targeting the corporate sector with mobile apps that grow social networks within companies organically. He pointed out that the top three social networking platforms used for business are actually well known consumer market apps: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in that order. Their first product, Anchor, is already deployed in about twenty companies.

“Social interactions at work are broken,” he said. “People work at home, people work at places like NextSpace, people work everywhere. But people are unhappy.” The solution is to use social media to infuse corporate culture with the lifestyle values – friendship and fun – that employees often leave at the door.

It’s Sol’s sixth venture, the two most recent – 12seconds.tv and RallyUp – were also started in Santa Cruz, California, working out of the NextSpace coworking community, another successful venture that combines local lifestyle and culture with high technology talent.

Peter Koht and Shane Pearlman joined Sol. Peter is one of the two principals of OpenCounter, an open source portal that helps new businesses navigate the complex and often contradictory permits and approvals process required by local government. He started it when he was working for the City of Santa Cruz, as a Code for America project. The Knight Foundation was so impressed it gave him and his business partner, Joel Mahoney, $500,000 to take it national this summer. In just a couple of months, they’ve signed up several new cities, including Houston, Texas.

Shane has leveraged the Santa Cruz lifestyle into Modern Tribe, a digital design and development agency started with a desire to work where he wants to live, not live where he has to work. The firm now has about 35 freelancers and employees, distributed around the world, linked by technology and shared values and qualities that Shane boils down to happy, helpful, curious, accountable and good.

The forum was organised by the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup and sponsored by Santa Cruz Tech Beat, Cruzio, NextSpace and the City of Santa Cruz. The next one is coming up on 6 November 2013, at the Cruzio & Ecology Action Green Building in downtown Santa Cruz.