Though they shared interests in technology, that wasn't what made them fast friends. They both happen to love cooking, which is something of a hobby for both men. Systrom visits Los Angeles frequently, trying to better understand how Hollywood is using Instagram. "Having Ryan give me feedback on the platform, it's extremely helpful," he said. "We're really both helping each other understand the other's world," he said.
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Seacrest agrees. "The dialogue between the two worlds is so valuable," he said. "I've been in the business of talking, and now I'm listening."
The distance between Hollywood and Silicon Valley is being bridged by people like Seacrest and Systrom, who are emblematic of an ongoing cross-pollination between these two worlds. Though it's the friction between the entertainment and technology fi elds that gets the most attention, mutual interest unites them.
Nowhere is this dialogue more evident than in Los Angeles, where a technology-driven startup community is coming of age in the backyard of the world's entertainment mecca. Collectively known by some as Silicon Beach, it's not just a group of tech companies but rather an ecosystem complete with mentorship programs, entrepreneurial education and near-nightly events to call its own. Though it's largely clustered around the beachside locales of Santa Monica and Venice, its tentacles stretch across the city, from Pasadena to Downtown to Beverly Hills to West Hollywood.
It's a community that started to blossom in 2011, but has roots going back to the 1990s, when companies like Shopzilla and eHarmony launched, followed by a second wave of more media-minded firms like MySpace and Demand Media.
"Now we're in a third wave," said Paul Bricault, former executive vice president at William Morris and founder of Venice-based tech-accelerator Amplify. "The growth happened over time, because before now, there hasn't been a foundation for startups."
In Los Angeles, there are now more than 30 co-working spaces, more than two dozen incubators and accelerators (though some are larger than others), and by some counts better than 700 startups in various stages of development.
This thriving tech hub is dependent on educational support from local universities; benefi cial policy set at the government level, including the mayor's office, which is shining a light on the tech community; larger companies doing business with the newbies; and increased venture funding.
But there's a bigger idea at stake here. It's not just about tech in Los Angeles, but rather tech with Los Angeles, capitalizing on the global brand the city already possesses: Hollywood.
One larger vision is entertainment and technology joining forces, making global exports more powerful than ever before. The merger of the two worlds has the potential to re-create film distribution, enhance moviegoing experiences, bring content to consumers in new ways on multiple screens, change the way we discover music, and reshape the way we experience the Internet altogether.
"My message to every studio is: If we disrupt Hollywood in this town by Hollywood giving business development partnerships to people, by Hollywood taking equity stakes in people, by Hollywood's staff leaving to (go to startups), then the next generation of Hollywood will exist in this town," said Mark Suster, founder of tech accelerator Launchpad, and managing partner at Upfront Ventures (formerly GRP).
For all of Los Angeles' potential as a new tech hub, the companies that are forged by the city's creative fires will be different in focus and scope than their Northern California counterparts. And while not every entity in this bustling scene is focusing its energies on the entertainment biz, enough of them are that their influence has significant implications.
"Disruption happens no matter what. So is it going to be disrupted in L.A. or disrupted in NorCal? Would you rather YouTube be based in NorCal or in SoCal?" Suster added. " We have the opportunity to lead the disruption, and you can be a part of it."
Some studios are already making these bets.
DreamWorks Animation reached out to an early-stage startup in AwesomenessTV, buying the teen- and tween-focused YouTube channel for $33 million in cash, with incentives that could push the deal far higher.
"We think YouTube -- as both a platform for user-generated content and a platform for shortform content -- has tremendous opportunity going forward," said DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.