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90% of Software Developers Work Outside Silicon Valley

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // July 13, 2016

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So much code to write, so few developers. The chronic talent shortage afflicting Silicon Valley is now all over the US—and the developers are too.

study by the software trade group The App Association analyzed government and private sector data to map where software developers live, and it identified 223,054 open positions around the country. It found that most developers live far away from the technology epicenter of Silicon Valley, and job openings follow a similar pattern.

The upshot: Silicon Valley-style talent wars are moving away from tech hubs to smaller metro and even rural areas. Everywhere from rural Vermont to the middle of Montana is in need of programmers.

“You can find places where you didn’t expect software developers to be, but they are part of the local economy,” said association spokesman Jonathan Godfrey in an interview. “It’s pretty much everywhere.”

Location matters less for many new technology jobs. Software developer positions are now now common in most state and growing in almost every region of the country.(ACT I The App Association)

“Software developer” is now the most common job in four states (Washington, Utah, Colorado, Virginia), according to 2014 US Census Bureau...

Silicon Valley’s Co-Working Boom Is No Cure For its Crushing Loneliness

By Samir Goel // Quartz // July 11, 2016

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"Silicon Valley" may be satire, but the HBO television show hits eerily close to home for many people in the technology and startup worlds. Among the many things it gets right is the tech world’s obsession with co-working spaces.

On the show, the absurdly arrogant yet lazy Erlich Bachman runs his own incubator, inviting founders to live and work in his home. Eventually, he gets some competition from Big Head, a similarly aimless character who turns his newly purchased mansion into another incubator.

The real world has also seen an explosion in co-working spaces since WeWork came on the scene in 2010. Silicon Valley is at the forefront of this trend. But in a city where every coffee shop has high-speed Wi-Fi, and even cultural centers like 111 Minna Gallery are functional offices, why has co-working taken off?

The answer can be found in Erlich. If there’s one thing Erlich’s character represents, it’s loneliness. Beneath all the bravado, he’s looking for companionship and human connection. And the same is true of the real-life entrepreneurs in San Francisco and now around the world.

Entrepreneurship is characterized by a series of extreme highs and lows. For many...

Watch Out, Designers: AI Design Bots Getting Better at Building Websites

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // June 30, 2016

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The first attempts by startups using artificial intelligence to design websites haven’t amounted to much. A much-anticipated company called The Grid has failed to deliver on expectations. There is still no AI art hanging in MOMA yet.

Data could fix that. Instead of building more clever bots, startups like Wix are mining troves of user data to train algorithms that offer sound design advice for business websites. Website building platforms are experimenting with AI as part of the future of design. The goal isn’t to replace great artists, but to make everyone else into a pretty good one.

It’s been a long time coming, says Nitzan Achsaf, head of Wix’s artificial intelligence efforts.

“I’ve been in tech 20 years, and I still can’t make a stunning website,” he said in an interview. It’s too difficult to avoid the “ugly zone” when choosing fonts, layout, image, text and structure. Those things require professional judgement.

Wix set out to build that intelligence into a product that makes personalized decisions in seconds. Developers tapped website data from Wix’s 85 million users (plus some human coaching) to extract some core principles about what design combinations and...

Students Will Pay $200M for Coding Bootcamps This Year

By Alice Truong // Quartz // June 23, 2016

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A few years ago, the idea of coding bootcamps—unaccredited programs that teach adults eager to break into the tech industry how to write software—was foreign even in Silicon Valley.

Today, though, bootcamps are a normal part of the tech hiring landscape, pumping out thousands of developers each year who compete against new computer-science grads for entry-level software jobs.

In 2016, an estimated 18,000 students will complete coding bootcamps in the US and Canada—a more than eightfold increase compared to 2013. That figure was released today (June 22) by Course Report, which tracks the coding school industry and offers a single process for people to apply to multiple schools.

All together, coding-school students will pay $198 million in tuition this year, up from $172 million in 2015 and $59 million in 2014. But the total amount of revenue for coding bootcamps is likely much greater.

That’s because there are a few different business models in the industry. Some schools charge only for tuition (in 2016, Course Report estimates an average fee of $11,000 for programs that typically last 10 to 12 weeks) while others receive payment from partner companies that employ their grads, similar to...

Want to Work in Silicon Valley? Move to Seattle

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // June 21, 2016

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Seattle doesn’t want to grow up to be Silicon Valley. It’s happy just to grab companies with good prospects unwilling, or unable, to pay the high price of expanding in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

A steady parade of tech firms, including some of the giants from Silicon Valley, have set up shop in the Pacific Northwest in recent years. The Seattle area is now home to employees of Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Salesforce, eBay, Dropbox, Uber, SpaceX, Taser, Palantir, Groupon, Hulu, Electronic Arts and Yahoo.

Now, startups are joining them as Bay Area prices and competition, as well as new ways to work remotely, push them northward in search of sustainable growth. Bay Area companies have even been acquiring Seattle startups (Google’s Picnik, or Salesforce’s Thinkfuse, for example) and turning them into outposts without relocating anyone, writes Hadi Partovi, an investor and founder of Seattle-based Code.org.

For many startups, it’s about economics.

“From a competitive and talent availability perspective, Seattle is definitely winning,” says Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder, an advertising production shop competing with Adobe. Thunder, which is based in San Francisco, opened a Seattle office this year and found a...