Finding Inspiration Throughout the Cyber Corridor

[This is a follow-up to my post yesterday on investing throughout the greater D.C.-Baltimore region.]

When I worked at Bessemer Venture Partners (2001-2011), my favorite day of the week was Monday: the all-hands meeting.  Not only could I get instant feedback on the issues top of mind in my portfolio and deal pipeline, I also got to learn what everyone else was working on.  I got to hear highly vetted pitches from as many as four compelling teams with fabulous ideas and/or businesses.  I could get exposure to sectors outside of my core focus (for a long time, cyber security and infrastructure software; later, clean energy.)

It was on a Monday that I got to see a chart of the viral growth in a new peer-to-peer voice technology.  I got to hear how a little review site intended to expand beyond San Francisco and Boston.  And on a Monday I got to shake Reid Hoffman’s hand.  (It was also on Mondays that I got to make commitments to co-invest in companies like Skype, Yelp and LinkedIn.  Thank you forever, BVP.)

The best part of technology investing (and I suppose any investing, and maybe any worthwhile activity) is collaborating with smart, motivated people who like to do the same thing.  For a decade, that was Mondays for me.  Now, for the last few months, it’s Thursday night.  Mach37 hosts a tremendous recurring dinner and speaker series on Thursdays in Herndon, VA.  I look forward to each event and always leave invigorated to continue working with great entrepreneurs in the Cyber Corridor.

Mach37 hosts the most frequent and topical such gathering for me, as an angel investor in cyber security.  But they are not the only one in the area.  I also always appreciate my interactions with Dingman Angels at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Angels in downtown Baltimore.  These three recurring meetings help me structure my calendar, compel me to get out throughout the entire region, and always inspire me to try to be of service to the great entrepreneurs in the area.

So if you ever want to connect to discuss cyber security, angel investing or the Cyber Corridor, look for me at a great event at one of these locations:

Virtual Offices

Finding Inspiration Throughout the Cyber Corridor

Is Baltimore the San Jose of the #CyberCorridor?

I’ve only been getting to know the D.C.-Baltimore Cyber Corridor for about six months now, but I am prompted to ask: Is Baltimore the San Jose of the #CyberCorridor?

A lot of things would say yes.  Both cities are at one end of their megalopolis regions.

Baltimore population: 622,000.  San Jose population: A somewhat more sprawling 998,000

Baltimore distance from D.C.: 38.3 miles.  San Jose distance from San Francisco: 48.4 miles.

Both cities host or are adjacent to major research universities (Johns Hopkins, Stanford), have easy access to three international airports, and are connected to their slightly more cosmopolitan neighbors by two major direct freeways and an under-used train system.

Baltimore has the edge in major sports teams that bear its name (Orioles and Ravens).  Though in addition to the Sharks, San Jose effectively now hosts the “San Francisco” 49ers and perhaps someday the A’s.

Baltimore has managed a respectable share of major technology wins in and Millennial Media.  San Jose has the edge here in Adobe alone, but both cities seem to have upside to host a bigger share of the great start-ups in their region.

One difference has struck me between the two.  San Jose declares itself the “Capital of Silicon Valley.”  Fair enough, and certainly good marketing for the southern anchor to the US’s 5th largest Megalopolis at 8.5 million people.  Does Baltimore even consider itself the northern terminus of the US’s 4th largest Megalopolis, population 9.4 million?

In the Bay Area, any company you can drive to is “local.”  Do Cyber Corridor investors seem a little unwilling to cross state and district lines?  I know I’m never going to bring Ravens and Redskins fans together.  But can we all agree that a start-up succeeding in Baltimore is great for D.C.?  And that a multinational tech company opening an office in Northern Virginia is great for Baltimore?

I live on the very edge of the Cyber Corridor in Baltimore County.  But I’m at the other edge at Mach 37 (right by Dulles) at least once a week.  Their companies and content and connections are amazing!  71 miles to see a dozen great companies at once?  No problem.  This is totally standard in Silicon Valley where great companies are spawned in Sonoma, San Ramon and Santa Cruz.

So divide up your sports teams however you need to.  (I remain a little conflicted as a National League partisan who is coming around to the Orioles.)  And thank you to all the great regional economic development agencies who understandably have to acknowledge those imaginary lines.  But if you have a checkbook and an EZ-Pass (or MARC Pass), let’s make the tech start-ups all over the region as successful as possible.  Especially the cyber security companies in the Cyber Corridor!


The San Francisco Bay Area:


The Cyber Corridor (same scale):                     And hence, the Inner Loop logo:

CyberCorridorInner Loop

Is Baltimore the San Jose of the #CyberCorridor?