(Photo by Flickr user L.Richarz, used under a Creative Commons license)
Philadelphia’s 1990s era dot com narrative was a suburban one. While the rest of the country is experiencing an urban tech blossoming, Philadelphia has remained behind the curve, at least as recent as 2011.
Among the country’s 11 largest investment markets in 2011, only Philadelphia had more suburban deals than in the city. Of $341 million in investment, 84 percent, or $288 million of it, was received in suburban zip codes. The rest was in the city, as the Atlantic pointed out.
Philly’s suburban basis is a large outlier — Chicago has the next highest suburban total, at 46 percent.
Three things are worth thinking about here:
- Timing: The numbers are from 2011, just before a rather active year of investment and urban relocations in Philadelphia. This doesn’t change that Philadelphia is behind in one quantifiable curve of urbanism.
- Metrics: Investment is just one metric for tech startup activity. If Philadelphia sees itself as a bootstrapping town, some of its successes wouldn’t be included in this kind of analysis.
- Size: Philadelphia lacks a runaway, city-based consumer success. So, the largest investments in the region are still going to expensive life sciences companies, largely seen as suburban-destined. What investment does come to Philly’s startup scene are smaller numbers — $5.5 million here and there being the outliers, not the norm.
Update: Philebrity also shared this here and has some comments worth reading.