Santa Cruz Tech Beat


A day in the life: More Promoting the Santa Cruz Tech Ecosystem (Part 2 of 2)


Steve Benz, Frank Bien, Claire Schneeberger, Bob Cagle, Justin Laing speak at Chamber’s CLV on October 27, 2013.

[This is PART 2 of 2. Read PART 1 here: A day in the life: Promoting the Santa Cruz Tech Culture. It was originally posted in Sara Isenberg’s blog.]

Remember the 3 page CLV insert I mentioned in my previous blog post called “A day in the life: Promoting the Santa Cruz Tech Culture”? I wrote that insert for the Chamber’s Community Leadership Visit (CLV), a 2 day event that started today, Sunday, October 27, 2013.

On Sunday, October 27 and Monday, October 28, the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce held a CLV — Community Leadership Visit — but instead of visiting another city as they did in Boulder last spring, or having leaders from another city visit Santa Cruz, this particular unique CLV was for and about Santa Cruz. I attended just two sessions (2-3 hours on Sunday) not the entire two day event. This post is about those two sessions, both about the Santa Cruz Tech scene. Just so you know, I came aware feeling particularly proud of our tech community and what’s been taking place over the last few years.

Session 1: Technology

  • Steve Benz, Five3Genomics
  • Claire Schneeberger, Monarch Media
  • Frank Bien, Looker
  • Justin Laing, Lightspeed (previously MerchantOS)
  • Bob Cagle, ProductOps

Each company founder listed above presented a thoughtful and human perspective about leading their Santa Cruz based tech company. I was so fascinated (and not thinking about writing a blog post at the time) that I didn’t start taking notes until moderator Bill Tyselling asked, “What would help your company be more successful in Santa Cruz?”

Responses included:

  • We need to be able to find and attract top talent.
  • UCSC: please foster more entrepreneurship!
  • We need help getting the word out that there’s a lot going on in tech in Santa Cruz, that we’re not just a tourist destination!
  • Santa Cruz has a perception problem. Let’s highlight the successes, not just the problems Santa Cruz seems to have become famous for!
  • It would be great to have help not just for startups but for “middle-aged” companies, too.
  • Santa Cruz needs a large enough tech ecosystem so that if a job doesn’t work out for someone, there’s another job without having to move away from Santa Cruz.
  • There is less competition for software developers in Santa Cruz than in the valley.
  • The Santa Cruz lifestyle is an attractive selling point when we hire.
  • We like that office rent is 1/3 the price of valley office rents.

Sound bytes:

  • “Santa Cruz is sticky.” (Frank Bien on the idea that once people move here they like to stay here.)
  • “The theme is developing our shared narrative.” (Bill Tysseling re the purpose of this CLV.)

Session 2: Technology Ecosystem

  • Andrew Mueller – TechRaising
  • Margaret Rosas – Santa Cruz Geeks
  • Matthew Swinnerton – Event Santa Cruz
  • Doug Erickson – Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup

Similar to Session 1, each presenter gave a heartfelt take on their perspective on the tech community in Santa Cruz. However, in this session, the presenters were discussing some aspect of the community in which they volunteer, not what they do for their living. In sum, there’s ton of there there (or there here, as is the case), but there’s still a ton to do to get the word out and raise the level of awareness and support for this rich and intentional community.

Sound bytes:

    • “We were the little engine that could.” (Margaret Rosas re the nascent days of the tech community)
    • “The event took 60 days to put together but the community took years to build… and now we get the reap the rewards.” (Margaret Rosas re first Tech Raising weekend)
    • “All of the piece parts are here but we don’t have the glue and the engine.” (Margaret Rosas re Steve Blank’s comments about Santa Cruz at a recent TechRaising meetup.)
    • “We need a Tannery for Tech!” (Margaret Rosas re … What if the city invested in tech the way they’ve invested in the arts using The Tannery as an example.)
    • “Our Santa Cruz brand is the common gut feeling.” (Andrew Mueller, with more eloquence in the preamble to this than I was able to capture.)

“There’s funding for companies and there’s funding for the ecosystem. Notice that the people in this panel who are building the tech ecosystem are volunteers. Each one has to ask for sponsorship dollars every time the want to do something, $200 sponsorship, pizza for this event, beer for that event.” (Sara Isenberg, as in … Hello, we need funding for the ecosystem, not just funding for companies.)

What’s the next step? I’m still digesting. Meanwhile, big THANKS to everybody who shared their stories. Here’s to Raising Tech in Santa Cruz!

Sara Isenberg
Producer, editor, curator
Santa Cruz Tech Beata news digest for folks who want to know and share what’s up in the Santa Cruz technology community.

Sara Isenberg curates and publishes Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the benefit of the extended business and technology community. When she is not volunteering her time for the tech scene, Sara makes her living by managing software projects, web strategy planning, and providing development team services (including account management, vendor management, strategic partner management, beta project management, referrals to qualified technical team members, and more). Please visit or contact Sara by email at if you have any project management, account management, or Development Team leadership or service needs.


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