San Francisco is a Fruit Fly


Following my earlier post about the virtues of IntelliJ as a (Java) software development environment, it seems Google have finally concluded the same.

Today at Google I/O the folks from Mountain View announced the release of Android Studio which, surprise surprise, is based on IntelliJ. What was particularly interesting was that the cheers from the crowd erupted not at the discovery that Google was releasing a new product, or indeed that Google was just scratching its nose (both events seeming to draw an equal amount of applause during the keynote) but rather than the studio would be underpinned by IntelliJ.

I don’t want to say, “I told you so”, but I told you so.

Is this one more nail in the coffin for eclipse? Well.. probably not. Here in Silicon Valley, and perhaps even more so in San Francisco, we live in a small bubble-like ecosystem (no pun intended) where our “world view” consists primarily of a 6 block area in SOMA where tripping on 10 startups as you walk to the bus is a quiet day.

We live in a world where a cafe’s primary light source is the illuminations from a hundred little apple icons beaming from the backs of its patron’s macbooks. Where “Microsoft Office” is the listed in the dictionary under Google Apps as “Old English Equivalent” and the statement, “Oh I don’t have a smart phone yet” is met which a level of incredulity so extreme that there is a special ambulance number reserved for just this situation lest the listener’s head explode.

The reality is that the vast majority of corporations in the US and the rest of the world are still using “WIOS” (Windows, IBM, Oracle, SAP et. al.) and we are just seeing things through Google colored glass.

This ecosystem is both bizarre and necessary. San Francisco is one of the few places in the world where the innovation culture and funding environment combine to create a perfect storm of uber creation. Companies spawn daily and are either eaten by other companies, evolve to larger companies or die of starvation. It’s corporate natural selection on a hugely accelerated scale.

We’re the fruit fly of the economy.

The thing is though, natural selection is required to create a dominant species and every so often an environment of rapid creation and attrition will produce those few companies that stand the test of time, and go on to change the world.


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