This couple is moving to the Bay Area for better odds of tech success - Philly


Mar. 8, 2016 7:59 am

This couple is moving to the Bay Area for better odds of tech success

“Yes, it’s a numbers game,” wrote marketer Angie Hilem. “Why shouldn’t we go where the numbers are in our favor?”

Nick and Angie Hilem and their late dog, Sid, in the summer of 2012.

(Photo by Neal Santos)

Nick and Angie Hilem think it might be Philly that’s holding them back.

“There’s more to what we want in life than can be achieved here,” Angie Hilem wrote in a Medium post entitled “The Hilems are Leaving Philadelphia.” They’re headed west.

Angie Hilem started her own marketing agency after leaving makerspace NextFab around this time last year. She said it’s been hard to find local customers, despite her network. Engineer Nick Hilem worked at Artisan Mobile and most recently at Mike Krupit’s IntroNet, as CTO. He just got a job at Google.

When it comes down to it, they’re leaving Philadelphia because the odds of success are just better in the tech hub that is the Bay Area.

“Yes, it’s a numbers game,” she wrote. “Why shouldn’t we go where the numbers are in our favor?”

Read the full post

The Hilems’ departure underscores the point that Philly can’t compete if someone wants to work at a tech giant like Google or Facebook. We’ve seen that from technologists who have left for the West Coast for precisely that reason. What would it take for Comcast to position itself as an alternative?

Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes was's editorial product lead after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

  • Mike Krupit

    I won’t get into the Comcast question, but I think it’s a bigger issue than our lack of a tech “anchor tenant.” Angie accurately calls it a numbers game. Without opportunity, it’s difficult to attract talent. Without talent, less opportunity arises. Catch-22, right? So how does a small team tech town like Philly become more attractive. Look bigger. Stop limiting ourselves to the city boundaries. Regional tech economic development. And while we’re at it, I’d like IntroNet’s next CTO to be from our region,

    • marcgravez

      Well said Mike! The distance from Princeton to Wilmington is comparable to the drive from San Francisco to San Jose. No “Google” or “Apple” perhaps, but many strong players and good opportunities.

      • jmaj

        Not looking to start anything, but I’m curious, who are the big players that are like Google and Apple between Princeton and Wilmington? Big players as in setting tech trends.

        When I was in college other than Lockheed and MSE (Mission Solutions Engineering), we were all interested in working for companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel, Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon and etc. I don’t recall any of us talking about SAP or Comcast, I’m pretty sure none of us knew what SAP was or that they were located in PA. I was more interested in startups then the big players but I did see the allurement to those companies. Especially when you’re in college, you just got excited and wanted to apply to all of them.

        • angie

          That’s the point – there’s no comparable “big player,” no one that’s been on the scene that attracts top talent by name alone.

  • hilem

    Comcast’s primary product isn’t tech. They’re a media company with a small tech division. It would be easier for someone else to come in than for Comcast to reposition. Why does the discussion always revolve around Comcast and not why companies like Google aren’t setting up shop in Philly?

    • Mike Krupit

      My thought exactly, which is why I didn’t want to pick the Comcast fight – it’s not who they are. Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon made intentional decisions to not locate here. For good reason, perhaps.

  • angie

    “More to what we want in life than can be achieved here” wasn’t meant as Philly is holding us back. It’s not hard for me to find clients here, it’s harder than it is for me to find clients elsewhere. To clarify, I’ve had a steady stream of clients thanks to the opportunities and connections presented to me as a result of being active in our scene. Those opportunities tend to branch out to other states and countries, though. That’s more interesting than the idea that I’m at all held back. In fact, it’s the exact opposite, isn’t it? (It’s also the truth.)

    Philadelphia has been my post-collegiate education and a ramp up to my success. It’s the spring board off of which I will dive into my next chapter, very happily. I encourage everyone to read my original post as it gives a much bigger and brighter picture of what we anticipate to come.

    • marcgravez

      Angie, best of luck. Please share with us how things go for you “out west.” I’m sure there’ll be more discussion of the issues brought up here at upcoming Philly Tech Meetup and Philly Tech Week events.

  • ambiguator

    What would it take for Comcast to position itself as an alternative?

    For starters, not being consistently rated the worst company in the world would help.

  • Christopher Saylor

    For me, I’m confused why this is a ‘bad’ thing. They are leaving to go work at established companies, use less of their talents as their products are already established, and grow profits for companies that are already leading the entire world in profits.

    Do we need more of that? We went through the 80’s and 90’s encouraging big corporate growth and it got Philly absolutely nowhere.

    To me, we should wish the couple well. But in reality they are leaving to go fight for jobs that probably pay in the same range as any job they have here (while having 3x the cost of living), while fighting a bunch of MBAs to encourage projects that probably encourage supply chain growth or some other corporate interest. As far as growing product within the city, I’d rather have people that are invested in building new and novel products and growing them to levels to strengthen and grow the overall market, not one company’s share in the market (which this couple spent years doing, so Thank You!).

    And the key of this shouldn’t be “better odds of tech success” it should be “he got a job at Google.” Philly does not house google currently for one thing (Pittsburgh does in the oddities of things), and also these are two young professionals that spent most of their adult life here so it’s not unexpected they’d want to make a move just to change things up. And maybe the message here should be “people always move on, be sure to maximize the opportunities they can experience while here”


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