Magazine article ADWEEK

The Next Wave Is Here: Seeking Inspiration and Cool Company, Media, Tech and Ad Players Jostle for Space amid the Surfers and Head Shops

Magazine article ADWEEK

The Next Wave Is Here: Seeking Inspiration and Cool Company, Media, Tech and Ad Players Jostle for Space amid the Surfers and Head Shops

Article excerpt

Chris Raih wanted to settle somewhere funky and hip with ready access to creative talent when he was scouting a Southern California location in 2006 for his about-to-launch ad agency Zambezi. A view of the Pacific Ocean and the possibility of surfing at lunchtime wouldn't suck either.

He found his way to the nascent Silicon Beach, a multimile stretch of Los Angeles that grew from iconic Venice Beach to Santa Monica, Marina del Rey and surrounding seaside burgs. The quickly gentrifying area, near the buzzy heart of Hollywood, earned its name for attracting tech startups, budding e-commerce, digital ad shops, and cutting-edge media and entertainment companies.

"This area is an inspiration to us everyday," notes Raih, founder of Zambezi with his ecd Brian Ford. "It's progressive, bohemian, smart. It's completely plugged into trends. And the natural beauty of the beach is another hemisphere of influence."

Raih's 70-person agency is in heavy-hitting company. Google, Snapchat, Hulu, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine's Beats Electronics, business incubators like Amplify and hundreds of emerging technology firms now populate the area. They're shoulder to shoulder with an eclectic mix of youth hostels, pot dispensaries, bong shops, hot new restaurants and fashion-forward boutiques.

Microsoft moved in about six months ago, and Intel is currently looking for local digs. Facebook outgrew its first office, moving slightly inland to Playa Vista, near YouTube, TMZ and ad agency 72andSunny. Prolific movie producer Joel Silver is renovating the Art Deco 1930s-era Venice Post Office for his production house, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering opening an office on artsy Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which GQ magazine has dubbed the "coolest block in America."

Silicon Beach has become so popular, in fact, that prices have skyrocketed, much more so than in L. …

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