Steve Poizner, San Diego resident, serial entrepreneur and onetime California gubernatorial candidate, says the time has come to lure venture-backed business to Southern California and away from Silicon Valley and the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area.
In June, Poizner announced the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, a nonprofit to help promote the region for new-business formation in technology, healthcare and biotech.
He’s got some big names backing his effort, including Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Bill Maris, the former CEO of Google Ventures (now GV). Maris is also founder of Section 32, a venture firm that will invest in a variety of industries, from healthcare to agritech, and recently raised $150 million. The year-old firm is based in Encinitas, California, near San Diego.
Schmidt has joined ASCI’s advisory committee while Maris signed a collaboration agreement with the group.
Under the agreement, Poizner said he would bring “potential deals” to Maris, though the arrangement won’t be necessarily exclusive. Full details were not disclosed. Poizner said he would also work with other VC firms in the Southern California region to help launch startups with potential.
Poizner, 60, served one term as California’s insurance commissioner. In 2010, he ran for governor and was defeated in the Republican primary by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who fell to Democrat Jerry Brown in the general election.
He moved to San Diego two years ago after spending three decades in Silicon Valley.
“Silicon Valley is an amazing place, but the conditions are right for another tech hub to emerge,” he said.
The competition for engineering talent in Southern California is less sharp, and the overall costs for space and employee housing are much cheaper than they are in Northern California, he said.
Silicon Valley has become “saturated” with little room to expand, he said. “When you’re a startup, you’re forced to compete with the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google, plus dozens of other startups all around you,” he said. “Silicon Valley has become a victim of its own success.”
Poizner said that five of the region’s colleges and universities have joined the Alliance and they can help ease the crunch for startup talent because they’re turning out a steady supply of engineering and science graduates each year.
Poizner has strong business ties to Southern California and knows the region well. He was founder and chief executive of SnapTrack, which was sold to San Diego-based Qualcomm in the early 2000s. He later ran the emerging-business unit at Qualcomm for five years.
Action Item: Alliance for Southern California Innovation: http://www.alliancesocal.org/
Tom York is a San Diego-based contributor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of Steve Poizner, a California Republican candidate for governor in 2010, with his daughter Rebecca (left) and wife, Carol, (right) greets supporters as he concedes to Meg Whitman, at an election night party at the Hilton in Irvine on June 8, 2010. Photo courtesy Reuters/Lori Shepler