Why Location Matters

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

It seems I owe some people some apologies. With everyone so excited about the Appsterdam movement, I’ve had to talk to a lot of people really quickly, which has meant boiling a lot of nuance into some very compact sound bites. It is never my desire to offend people, so I’d like to offer up those apologies now.

First and foremost, to my friends at Sofa, I apologize for the sentence, “Sofa wanted to help out, but then they got offered a lot of money to move to the Valley.” I didn’t mean to imply that the money played any part in your decision. Only that it was a nice bonus for the opportunity of a lifetime.

I also didn’t mean to imply that I think the Sofa team is wrong for joining Facebook. If I had grown up here in the Netherlands and was offered the opportunity to move to Silicon Valley to work with a team I genuinely admired, I would jump at the chance. A little bit of walking around money doesn’t hurt, either.

That said, and as much as I hope you guys have a blast, I hope you come back. The more Valley knowledge we can bring back to Appsterdam, the better. And to anyone growing up in the US, in or outside Silicon Valley, you should take a lesson from Sofa and come to Europe for a little bit. Appsterdam would sure love to have you.

Now I must apologize to my brothers and sisters in the great city of Berlin for the sentence, “Berlin is not a good place to raise children.” I didn’t mean to impune the reputation of your fair city, any more than I mean to denigrate any other city. Truth be known, Berlin is my second choice for a developer hub, right after Amsterdam.

The reason Amsterdam won over Berlin is not really about raising children per se. Berlin is a very hip city, grungier than Seattle and San Francisco combined. As such, it’s full of artists and bohemians of every stripe, making it a center for art and culture. If the Netherlands is serious about cutting public funding for arts programs, I think that whole industry should move to Berlin in protest.

We have a bit of Berlin right here in Amsterdam at the NDSM-Werf, where we have our first Appsterdam Official Hangout, Appsterdam Noord. Berlin is heaven for a certain type of person. Amsterdam has something for everyone. It is that compromise, that “middleness,” that makes it the perfect home for our movement.

In a very real sense, location doesn’t matter. We could have chosen anywhere to concentrate our efforts, which is why my search for the perfect place took me to such strange ends as Cambodia and Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.

What matters is that we be in one place. We can work together over the Internet, but we can’t go out for beers together over the Internet. It is that beer factor, or to put it more scientifically, that density, that has Silicon Valley whipping the world’s ass.

You all can spend the rest of your lives debating about the place. We in the Appsterdam movement have picked a place and are already getting together. The great news is, the place is surrounded by a lot of other really great places that are close and easy to get to. Amsterdam is in the middle in a geographical sense as well, and we have a huge airport with flights to anywhere.

Amsterdam isn’t perfect, but it is pretty darned nice, and it’s filled with passionate developers who are intent on making it the best place in the world for App Makers. If you need any more convincing than that, come visit us here in Appsterdam. I’ll be surprised if you don’t want to come back.