Why these 7 tech employees chose to call LA home

by John Siegel
June 27, 2018

Every year, thousands of people move to Los Angeles in search of bigger and better opportunities, a big break or just a change of pace. 

For some, it’s the beaches. For others, it’s the weather. But for a growing number of fresh transplants, it’s the lure of a growing tech scene that offers a level of innovation few other markets can match.  

With that in mind, we asked around town to learn how local techies found their way to Southern California — and the tech companies that they currently call home. 
 

flexport freight and logistics startup playa vista california
photo via flexport

Headquartered in San Francisco, Flexport is a transplant itself, having set up shop in Southern California not too long after its launch in 2013. While employees Melissa Pressler and Tri Trang moved west for different reasons, the two are in lockstep about what they love about the City of Angels.

 

What brought you to LA?

Tri Tang, director of business improvements: Flexport is really what brought me here. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work for a company that is tackling something as challenging as global trade and making it easier in a setting as beautiful and diverse as Los Angeles. This is the perfect time to be here — the tech scene is booming, the energy is vibrant and the Lakers are getting LeBron.

Melissa Pressler, global operations associate: A hunger for adventure and the Californian vibe brought me here. I lived in Ohio for six years before moving to California, but California had been on my mind since graduating college. After two years working at a Fortune 200 company, I decided to make my dream come true. I quit my job, sold most of my belongings and packed up my car.

This is the perfect time to be here — the tech scene is booming, the energy is vibrant and the Lakers are getting LeBron.”

What makes LA’s tech scene stand out?

Pressler: LA has to prove that it is just as good as Silicon Valley. There is a stigma surrounding LA that people are superficial and image conscious, but I don’t think that exists within the tech community. Our tech scene is built around being driven, striving for the best and always pushing the status quo. Ultimately, everyone has their preference, but if you’re looking for great opportunity, LA is the place to be.

 

joany healthtech startup los angeles california
photo via joany

Two months after getting married, Julie Eubank relocated from New York to Los Angeles with her husband to be closer to the epicenter of the entertainment industry. Eubank — who’s currently a senior software engineer at JOANY — talked to us more about the differences between LA and New York’s respective tech scenes, and what excites her about working in LA.

 

What brought you to LA?

After nine years in New York, my husband and I moved here in November. While the move was mostly for my husband — he’s a television writer and has family here — I knew the tech community out here was growing and I’d be able to find a great opportunity.

 

What did you know about the local tech scene before moving here?

I had heard about Silicon Beach and I was aware of some anchor companies and brands that started here — Snap and Grindr, for instance —  but otherwise, I wasn’t sure how much of a scene there was. I ended up settling on the East Side, so I am glad there are so many opportunities in DTLA and East LA.

I’ve met a number of amazing engineers fresh out of college and bootcamps, and I’m really excited to see what the scene looks like in a few years.”

What makes LA’s tech scene stand out?

New York’s tech scene is huge and growing, but a large portion of that is in fintech and adtech. I love that LA has such a diverse tech market. I also hope that DTLA continues to develop as a hub.

This is true everywhere, but hiring isn't easy, especially for senior engineering roles. I suspect that’s because the community here is still young, but I’ve met a number of amazing engineers fresh out of college and bootcamps, and I’m really excited to see what the scene looks like in a few years.

 

fabfitfun ecommerce media startup west hollywood
photo via fabfitfun

Operating at the intersection of fashion, e-commerce, media and tech, FabFitFun is able to attract employees with very different backgrounds to join its growing team. While the professional histories of current employees Sara Mattler, Amir Shahir and Trip Wood share little resemblance, relocating to Los Angeles is something the three have in common.

 

What brought you to LA?

Sara Mattler, director, brand partnerships - fashion: I spent the last 15 years in New York City. For the last year or so, I was considering a move to LA, but only if the right opportunity emerged. When the chance to work at FabFitFun came about, I knew it was the perfect fit.

Amir Shahir, director, operations: During my time living and working in San Francisco, I took a handful of trips down the coast to see LA and really liked the vibe and overall diversity. It was when I was down here exploring the tech scene and seeing how it compared to the Bay Area when I came across FabFitFun.

When the chance to work at FabFitFun came about, I knew it was the perfect fit.”

How has your opinion of the city changed since you moved here?

Trip Wood, vice president, operations: When I first moved here, someone told me that if I could avoid the freeways, I would absolutely love LA. I moved into a home within walking distance of work, great restaurants and The Grove, so for me, Los Angeles is a wonderful, walkable place to live.

 

What makes LA’s tech scene stand out?

Shahir: It’s a lot different than what I was used to in the Bay Area. Since moving to LA, I’ve been in touch with a ton of different types of startups and leaders. The community feels so tight-knit — it really feels more like a family, where people are rooting for each other to succeed. It's quite refreshing compared to the competitive nature of the Bay Area.

Wood: I am really encouraged by the collaborative environment of the tech scene in LA. There is a general feeling in LA that any success is everyone’s success. I often get requests from other companies to come see our capabilities and I’ve gone and visited many other companies to see theirs.

 

aspiration sustainable finance startup marina del rey
photo via Shutterstock

Born and raised on the East Coast, Lily Bowles never imagined living in Los Angeles. But all that changed when Marina Del Rey-based Aspiration, a sustainable finance startup, came calling. Two years later, Bowles said she couldn’t be happier with the relocation.

 

What brought you to LA?

After I graduated from the London School of Economics, I was committed to working at a firm dedicated to mainstreaming sustainable finance. I learned about Aspiration's work and wanted to contribute to the startup's effort to democratize sustainable banking and investing, no matter where it was located. It just so happened Aspiration was in LA, so off to LA I went. I am so glad I took the chance and ended up here.

 

How has your opinion of the city changed since you moved here?

I used to think of LA as one sprawling, unnavigable city dominated by the entertainment industry and traffic.

When I moved here, I found entertainment is only one of many industries with a strong presence. There are a lot of people working in finance, cleantech, transportation and nonprofits doing incredible work around homelessness, urban revitalization and the environment. The people here are also very active and do not take LA's proximity to the ocean, mountains, national parks or wine country for granted.

While the traffic is a real thing, you get used to it. Because I take Lyft everywhere, I actually enjoy commuting, because I get to soak in the different neighborhoods, which I have come to learn all have unique personalities.

Everyone I have met so far has been very open-minded, eager to discuss ideas and generous with their time sharing their experiences, feedback and resources.”

What makes LA’s tech scene stand out?

The tech scene is newer and smaller than it is in San Francisco or NYC. As a result, I think people go out of their way to try to engage more. Everyone I have met so far has been very open-minded, eager to discuss ideas and generous with their time sharing their experiences, feedback and resources. People have a growth mindset and are eager to build products that have a substantial impact and shift the reigning paradigms of their given industry.

 

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