[Apologies for the self-indulgent post, back to investment soapboxing next time!]
Three years ago, I moved to California to open a new office in Palo Alto for my firm. (You'll notice I never name my outfit in the blog; that's not because I'm trying to be coy or an attention-hog. Rather, I've always tried to keep the blog "personal" so as not to run afoul of some regulatory trap for the unwary and embroil my employer in undeserved controversy.)
Anyhow, I'd already been spending 80 days a year on the west coast, meeting with entrepreneurs and investment managers, so it just made sense to make the leap. When a then-six year-old Miss LP started matter-of-factly calling me "Weekend Dad," I knew it was time to gather up the brood and light out for the territories to follow in the footsteps of pioneers, gold rushers, dust bowlers, and dot com-mers. At the time, I told our CEO that when our lease was up in three years time, either we'd need a lot more space because we'd been able to plant a potent seed in a fertile landscape, or we'd need no space at all, because the experiment hadn't succeeded.
Turns out that the truth lies somewhere in between, boring as that sounds. California may forever be a sunny and ample land, but for a dynamic investment firm with a global, multi-asset class perspective, other coasts and climes beckon and geographic footprints need to be reassessed from time to time. And in our reassessment as the lease-end approached, we decided to close the office . . . and I decided to stay out here and, sadly, part ways with my firm in doing so.
And here’s another boredom-inducing tidbit: there's no drama or backstory to tell. My firm tried to lure me back East; I thought about it, talked to the family, gazed for a while at a nearby grove of redwoods imperial — as a son of Whitman's Brooklyn, I'm endlessly captivated by the stalwart trees of the West — and politely declined.
I've had a blast working for my company; they're good people pursuing an important mission. It's been a great seven years, but the allure of California is just too strong; I've been mesmerized by this magical place, and I don't think I'll ever leave.
I don't really know what did it: the weather is the easy throw-away answer, but maybe I've been beguiled by the succession of start-ups that I've hosted here in the office? Or it could be the open architecture of relationships out here. People seem to network for sport, and, if you're at all credible, you're a phone call or two away from anyone. Perhaps I've been enchanted by my neighbor who walks his home-built robot each morning, or that Miss LP asked me to clean out the garage because she wants to invent something in there? But, ultimately, it's the energy and intensity of the people here. Everyone seems to be Working on Something Disruptive. And it's not just the entrepreneurs, it's the investors, too. There's a disregard for convention that seems to define the Very Idea of California; we're not only struggling over the size of the slices of the pie, but we're also trying to figure out how to make the pie bigger. Hector St John de Crevecoeur could've scarcely imagined California when he wrote Letters from an American Farmer in 1782, but his words seem to presage all the Golden State would offer: "Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims."
The inquiring reader asks: "what's next?" Here's the best answer your humble narrator can offer: I'm not sure yet. I've got a bunch of plates spinning, some of which could be really interesting, and I'm spending time with as many smart people from as many different walks of life as I can get plugged into. The blank sheet of paper beckons and Walt Whitman's words echo: "I, now thirty-[nine] years old in perfect health begin / Hoping to cease not till death."