The infamous TN1-VISA: Its like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, except this one lets me legally work in the US.  I took this photo 5 minutes after walking out of the US customs office in YYZ

(for tips on what to do/expect when making the move yourself, checkout my other post here)

I recently moved from my home town of Toronto, Canada to downtown San Francisco.  A lot of people have asked me why I moved (other than the job) so I thought I’d write a quick post about my move.  Over the next few months I will also be publishing weekly (hopefully) updates about my journey into the heart of the tech world.

For the past couple of years I have been working at a small internet startup, immersed myself in startup culture, attended tech / startup events, talked and debated with startup people.  In this experience, there was always one common denominator: no not startups… “The Valley” (Yes, I understand that San Francisco isn’t exactly in the “Valley”).  At almost every experience I had, peoples’ experiences, anecdotes, connections always pointed back to a person, company or product that came out of the Bay area.  It was surprising to me at first, but it eventually made more sense.  In addition to the history of the area, the high standards + influence of nearby academic institutions, the Bay Area has a reputation of software projects and teams with drive, talent, experience and success.

But the nay-sayers argue that we (the software industry) look too blindly at the valley and put it on a pedestal.  Great software can come from anywhere in the world.  I totally agree on all those points.  Many people do blindly look towards the Valley for the next big thing, the software industry does put the valley up on a pedestal while labeling other developing tech cities “the next valley”, and for sure, amazing software can come from anywhere in the world.  There is no doubt that the Bay area is the center of the tech world.  It was 10 years ago, it still is today.  We can attempt to recreated these settings elsewhere, and Toronto is building an impressive scene, but it will take a long time to move out of the shadow.

If I was a serious American Football player, and was serious about one day playing in the Superbowl, I would apply to an American University and try damn hard to make it.  In my case, I am a serious software developer.  I am serious about making “something big” some day, so I moved to the Bay Area and am going to try damn hard to try to make it.  I cannot replicate years of culture, hundreds of already rooted companies, and thousands of local talented minds.  I can, however, relocate myself.  And so I did.

The hardest part of the choice was:
-Leaving a company I helped build
-Moving very far away from my close family and friends
-Moving away from my girlfriend
-Leaping into the total unknown

The other things that helped me make my choice:
-I have endured 25 years of Toronto winters, I wanted a break
-I have never lived outside of Toronto
-I had an incredible offer to work for an amazing company
-I have a supportive family who was behind my decisions
-I have an amazing girlfriend who was on board with me 100%
-I am at a place in my life (financially, career, relationship)  were I can afford to take risks
-I have very little to lose, and can always come back home

So I also forgot to mention that I took a job at Twitter.  With ~200 brilliant people and growing strong, I’m in for an interesting ride.  I packed up all my stuff, and moved to San Francisco.  I’m sure not everyone will agree with my justifications, but I wanted to experience this for myself, and be part of something big.  How many people who criticize the “overrated tech scene” in the Bay area have actually lived here?  And to those who have lived here, it took first hand experience to formulate that opinion, let me experience then formulate my own.  I’ll work as hard as I can to contribute to a product which affects and touches millions of people around the world.  I will try to absorb every bit of information I can, and meet as many people as I can.  And lastly, I will try to have some fun… .