Techstars: Day 22 (Rise and Fall)

I achieved more today in 2 hours worth of productive coding that I’ve managed to do in the past 3 days combined. OK, so two of those days were the weekend, but I had fully intended to work on both of those days instead of languishing while recovering from The Plague.

My achievements todays were welcome ones as I think I’ve just lined up a load more work for me to do courtesy of a meeting at Facebook where a few ideas were forthcoming. The details of that meeting are unimportant as far as todays blog post goes (although it was a very productive meeting). What I’d like to concentrate on is the Facebook offices and, more importantly, the walk I took afterwards.

So Facebook is getting on to be nearly 11 years old and, in that time, their UK operation has become big enough to command a number of floors in a very impressive office block in central London. The offices boast free food and refreshments, a games room, climbing walls and all the other cool accoutrements you associate with modern tech companies. It’s all very impressive.

The building itself is located near one end of Tottenham Court Road, which used to be a Mecca for geeks like me wanting to buy the latest computer hardware. It’s been a number of years since I last walked along Tottenham Court Road (in fact it’s probably been about 11 years) so I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane. What I found was depressing, but unsurprising.

The technology houses that have survived the fall of Tottenham Court Road are now little better than consumer electronic stores selling cut price laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The shops are tired looking and run down looking; more bargain basement than cutting edge.

The sad fact is that the internet and Apple have killed Tottenham Court Road. If I want to buy cutting edge hardware I either go online, or I walk into the consumerist temple that is the Apple Store, itself located on Regent Street along with all the other high worth big names. The Tottenham Court Road I knew is a relic of last millennium.

It’s kind of weird that from the 8th floor windows of the Facebook office you can see the crumbling remains of the old tech world, and that all this has happened in a little over a decade.