Silicon Valley: 7th – 13th Dec 2008

I’m lazy, so I think I’ll be skipping breakfast to grab brunch later at the airport. It’s been a while since I posted an entry or two, so I thought I’d play catch-up and take stock of my short 1 week trip to the Valley.

This trip has been a fruitful one – we began the week with a series of meetings with VCs along Sand Hill Road to bounce ideas with them on how Singapore could play a small (but hopefully useful) role in keeping the cogs of the Silicon Valley innovation engine oiled and turning, even as the financial storms continue to blow. Geez’, how did Madoff get away with that US$50b Ponzi scheme of his over at Wall Street? Someone must have been sleeping on his watch! Not that US$50b is a large sum considering the trillions that have been poured into this debacle since the circus show began months ago. But I digress.

Thursday and Friday was spent catching up with some startups in the Bay Area, to explore ways in which they could leverage upon Singapore to extend their runway and establish an engineering center in Singapore that is 7-hours away from half the world’s population. In case you’re wondering how, the government of Singapore has cash grants that can support development work by footing up to 50% of the salaries of their Singapore-based employees. You don’t have to hire locals to extend your runway. Even seeding the team with engineers from your HQ (on USA pay) would result in anywhere between 30% – 50% runway extension (conservative estimate of variation due to inefficiencies in the relocation process). The best part? These grants are non-dilutive and do not require any stake of your profits or IP. It’s also perfect that Singapore does not have capital gains tax, nor have immigration quotas for H1-B-equivalents or Green Card equivalents. Drop me a line if you’d like to find out more.

My belief is that the next 12  – 18 months will be absolutely critical to startups everywhere. The year of 2009 is definitely one of negative growth in most markets, save China, India and a few others. I’ve been following the market closely over the past few months, and my largest concern is that the consumer credit card market will explode. Amex’s conversion to bank status wasn’t enough to stem erosion in confidence. Americans, and other plastic-trigger-happy folks around the world are known to have the toxic habit of rolling over their balance month on month. Woe be us should this go up in flames as well.

There’s plenty of follow-ups I gotta get out of my way, and hey, I have a flight to catch, so till next time!

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.