KCBS Cover Story: Tech Conference Chooses Oakland Over San Francisco
OAKLAND (KCBS) – Big tech conferences are often held in San Francisco or San Jose, but a tech startup conference has chosen Oakland as its new home.
Since 2007, Vator Splash has held its flagship event in San Francisco. That changed this year, as investors and entrepreneurs are discussing the future of tech innovation and investment across the bay in Oakland. One of the highlights – a start-up competition.
“20 finalists have been through a really rigorous process,” said Karen Wertman, executive producer of the event. “They are presenting on stage to blue chip VC firms.”
Wertman said the conference was moved away from San Francisco as a way of focusing the attention on what is happening in the East Bay.
“People are coming over in droves to Oakland. They’re coming here because it is less expensive as a company to come here,” she said. “But they’re staying for the assets.”
Alison Best, President and CEO of Visit Oakland, acknowledges a moniker recently given to Oakland. “The Brooklyn of the Bay Area. We’ll take it. I think it helps people get their head around what’s going on here,” Best said.
Brooklyn is often considered the funky, hip, edgy borough in New York, cheaper than Manhattan. Now, Oakland is attracting some of those same elements. But Oakland native, Grammy winner and tech entrepreneur MC Hammer said there is no need for comparisons.
“Brooklyn is literally the name of a part of Oakland. And it’s right here next to the estuary,” he said.
$1.2 billion has been secured by California Governor Jerry Brown to build a new community center called the Brooklyn Basin. Hammer said there is room for tech in both San Francisco and Oakland. “What I do is look to see how my neighbor and I can work together,” he said. “We’re here to collaborate and build. This is a win-win for the Bay Area.”