When Mike Macadaan, a Silicon Valley based designer at AOL, decided to throw a tech exhibition, you’d think he would have done it locally. Instead, Macadaan did the unthinkable. He went to Los Angeles. Surely this would mean disaster. After all, the only tech companies in LA were celebrity vanity projects that made no sense, right?
To the surprise of many, Macadaan proved everyone wrong and in the process revealed Southern California as the undiscovered country of Hi-Tech. Right from the start, Mike’s Twiistup exhibitions have drawn huge crowds and brought attention to hot startups developing real technology. In only its fourth incarnation, Twiistup has become the anchor of LA’s unofficial Internet week, which opened with Brian Solis’ TechSet and closed with Mashable’s LA tour stop.
I asked Mike why he decided to throw his event in LA and what he expected to find there, and he explained, “I was asked to hire some design talent in LA so I thought I’d hunt around at some tech parties like I do in northern California. After hearing and reading about the tech boom happening in SoCal, I was shocked to learn that they didn’t do much in the way of events that attracted creative people from different industries. I decided to throw my own event so that I could introduce myself to the tech community.”
Since the first event started as little more than a meet and greet, I asked Mike if he was surprised by the interest and response he’s received and he continued, “I wasn’t surprised by the quality of the companies, but I was surprised by how many emerged. There are some incredibly smart people down here working on amazing things. This also inspired me to create an even bigger stage for them to “Showoff” so they can receive their much deserved attention. The people showing up at our events are genuinely looking to learn about new things, make new connections, and get some inspiration so they can bring some creativity back to their nest.”
What started as a local event is now drawing participants and sponsors from as far away as Boston, and even international inquiries from Europe. I asked social media maven Brian Solis, who was in town for both his own TechSet event and for Macadaan’s Twiistup, if he thought the balance of power has shifted away from Silicon Valley in the Web 2.0 era, and Solis said, “The balance of power isn’t shifting away from any one place, it’s distributing and expanding. Emerging tech regions are thriving because of the contributors who cultivate and define their community and the champions who organize and spotlight their culmination and rise. Mike Macadaan has done an incredible job showcasing the Los Angeles startup economy and it’s only continuing to grow.”
Mike’s Silicon Valley brethren may lynch him for taking his party to Southern California, but in the process he’s showing that Los Angeles isn’t just about Hollywood anymore.
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