There was a brief discussion on Facebook, a guy named Moritz Stückler complained in a column titled Valleycon Silly: Why 6 months in Silicon Valley were not a good idea that he was unable to make good use of his time here, and that six months is not enough. That’s unfortunately what happens when you don’t prepare well. When you step into Silicon Valley with the naive belief that everything will go as smoothly and easily as at home, then there is no way that six months will be enough. You are bombarded with too much information. Not even a year would be enough. Preparation is everything for a Silicon Valley project – along with the journalistic skills of research and networking.
Anyone embarking on such a journey must prepare very carefully. This starts with finding an apartment (AirBnB is a good tip), which confronts you with a fundamental problem in Silicon Valley – rents are astronomical. The closer you are to the headquarters of Google and Facebook and the University of Stanford, the more you have to pay. Monthly rents of 5,000 dollars and more are normal. There are even places that go for 37,000 dollars a month. The real estate market here in the Valley is insane.
And if you come with your family, you have to get your kids into kindergarten or school. Fortunately, the German American International School (GAIS) in Menlo Park is a very good option that many parents who work in Silicon Valley use – the 13-page questionnaire (including “word used for bowel movement”) that must be filled out at home for each child is the first taste of the United States.
Food and transportation
You also have to deal with issues such as rental cars, where to buy food, and that you need a customer card at supermarket A to get discounts, that supermarket B sells organic food, and that there is a baker in town C that makes European bread that doesn’t taste sweet.
Why am I writing this? Because these are problems that also confront every startup – plus the challenge of finding an office. And if you want to spend more than 90 days here, the employees also need a visa – which any journalist that regularly travels to the USA for business purposes has to have anyway.
But the most important thing is to tap into a network before you depart, to arrange meetings and interviews from home so that you don’t have to start from zero when you arrive – if you don’t do that, you will really have a hard time.