Santa Monica tech industry to benefit SMC

Michael Price

Chavi Gourarie
March 23, 2012
Filed under News

At night, Santa Monica is home to nearly 90,000 residents, and the ocean waves seem louder than the freeway traffic. By day, the population increases rapidly, and Santa Monica swells with beach-happy tourists, groan-worthy traffic, and SMC students.

In recent years, the number of tech-related businesses contributing to the traffic and the general commotion in Santa Monica has increased considerably, and the trend continues.

Tech giants such as Yahoo, Google, and Sony are establishing offices in Santa Monica. They bring along engineers and designers, and open the door for new job opportunities for the Santa Monica community. At the annual State of the City event on Jan. 26, Santa Monica Mayor, Richard Bloom, told the city, “Today, we are not Santa Monica; we are Silicon Beach and Tech Coast.”

Santa Monica College President and Superintendent, Dr. Chui L. Tsang, predicts the rise of tech businesses in Santa Monica is exciting to the future of SMC. According to Tsang, the relationship between the college and the tech scene in Santa Monica is synergetic. “We are a part of the infrastructure,” Tsang said.

Many staff members at SMC come from or are still active in the tech industry. They bring along their knowledge on the most up-to-date skills and information on newest technologies.

SMC’s Academy of Entertainment and Technology curriculum prepares students with the skills required to work in a tech-based economy. AET offers courses in the intersection of media and technology, in fields such as animation, game development, post-production, and graphic design.

In addition to students who are just beginning a higher education, AET serves professionals who are already in the tech business, but wish to upgrade their skills and master new technologies.

Tsang states that the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce have been working hard to make Santa Monica hospitable to tech companies.

SMC alumnus and creator of Coloft—a company that offers an office space geared for people doing tech related work in Santa Monica—Avesta Rasouli says that the rise of tech businesses is an organic process. Rasouli believes a tech-based economy will flourish where there is talent, funding, and community.

According to Rasouli, Coloft was less a business venture than a chance to foster a community of entrepreneurs. “I wanted to be around people smarter than me,” said Rasouli. Today, Coloft has become a startup incubator that is central to the flourishing tech business startups in Santa Monica.

Between tech giants like Google and pint-sized startups like Coloft, Santa Monica is also home to emerging and growing companies like EdgeCast, a content delivery network, and Riot Games, a browser-based game developer. These companies employ hundreds of engineers, raise millions in funding, and have experienced tremendous growth over the last year, according to the Riot Games and Edgecast websites.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the State of the City event last January that Google’s Irvine office in Southern California will move to a larger space in Venice.

Venice Town Hall has a panel discussion scheduled for April, titled “The Emergence of Silicon Beach,” and will include representatives from Venice-based tech companies such as JibJab, Google, and Digital Domain, according to Laist.com.

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