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What Economy? What Traffic?

I'm exploring Silicon Valley for the first time this week, making the rounds to meet a bunch of venture capitalists and buzz-worthy companies. Despite all the gloomy talk about the sour economy that has dominated business circles on the East Coast, this area almost seems a bit insulated--even if it's only a mindset.

When I asked people I've met here if they're worried about how the unstable economy will affect the tech community, they simply shrugged and didn't seem to be losing much sleep over it. A few people said they gauge the strength of the economy by how heavy the traffic is during rush hour on US-101, the main highway that connects San Jose to San Francisco, and all the start-ups in between. If the roads are jammed with cars, business must be good. And when traffic starts spreading to the scenic backroads, business is booming.

Perhaps I'm just used to driving in Washington on some of the country's most congested roads, but the traffic seems very manageable here. I've been shuttling back and forth from one town to the next at every hour of the day this week, and I've been impressed by how quickly cars move. I mentioned the observation to some friends at dinner last night and they seemed appalled. Traffic is so horrendous they dread getting on the roads, they said.

They clearly haven't spent much time on the beltway.

By Kim Hart  |  January 24, 2008; 10:11 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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That was one hell of a Washington-centric analysis of a place that is effectively foreign to you. I hate to say it, but you're the insulated one.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2008 1:45 AM

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