Computer Science students Ryan, Tristan and Ashton won the University's Apps Crunch competition to design an original app. Their prize was a trip to California to meet Bath alumni and other representatives from leading tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Eventbrite and Twitter. They're now halfway through their trip - here's what's happened so far:
We arrived, slightly frazzled, to a house in southern San Francisco. Ringing the doorbell, we were greeted with a "Are we expecting any company tonight?" - An easy joke to play on three students having travelled for 25 hours; 8 hours jetlagged.
The following day more than made up for the few moments of fear. We began with breakfast at Louis’, a diner overlooking the remains of a victorian spa. ("How can an ocean-water spa burn down?"), and an insider tour to the places to be in San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge, Little Italy, the Castro district, Disney Museum, Chinatown, all still looking quintessentially 50s. The tech influence of Silicon Valley also started to become apparent. Advertisements for cloud computing, headquarters of Eventbrite and Salesforce. We were even told that "This used to be a bad part of town, until Twitter came here".
The afternoon was when the trip started proper, however. Taking the BART down south, our excitement picked up after receiving a text of “I’ll be in the white Porsche”. As promised, we were soon zooming down the wide, and much flatter streets of Millbrae to Anthony Lye’s home, an incredible multi-million dollar mansion, where we met some of his friends, many of whom were entrepreneurs. Of course our questions started along the lines of “So, say I want a mansion in California…” (Though perhaps a bit more subtly worded), but soon quietened down into gossip: Google and Twitter aren’t cool anymore, but are nice if you want to start on six-digit salaries. Startups are where it’s at. Network companies are terrible. Facebook has peaked.
San Francisco seemed to be unquestionably where it’s at for the tech world, and we all got excited at the amazing prospects there. Later that night however, after returning to our hotel and looking around for food, we were reminded very clearly of what we were told earlier. If you do well, San Fran shoots you up. If you do badly, you crash and burn. After the sun went down, the city becomes very different, with many people down on their luck roaming the streets; a stark reminder of how, though tech had changed the city radically, it hadn’t benefitted everyone.