What’s Silicon Valley’s secret sauce?

After a few years basking in the orange glow of Y Combinator — founding one ultimately doomed startup, joining two VC firms, and becoming Chief of Staff at a Series B rocketship — I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes the San Francisco Bay Area so great for entrepreneurs. But I’m still a Midwesterner at heart.

If you’re living anywhere in the world but Northern California, you probably wonder why folks will agree to pay $4,000/month for a one-bedroom apartment consistently engulfed in wildfire smoke. You probably know that it has something to do with startups and investors, hype cycles and train wrecks, independent thinking and hero worship — but not too much more than that.

If you want to understand what makes Silicon Valley such a special place for startups, investors, and next-generation technology, subscribe now. The best way to find an honest, inside look at startup culture is to hear it from a fellow Outsider.

What to expect from Silicon Valley Outsider:

  • 🔥 Deep Cuts: If you want detailed notes of how the iPhone 37 launch event went, look elsewhere. I’ll highlight stories you might not hear otherwise: the human side of startup news, the Silicon Valley lore “everyone” already knows, and the nascent trends that haven’t yet made it to prime time.

  • 🧠 Context: You can always count on me to use real-people words; I detest jargon. When unavoidable, I’ll define my terms in parentheticals. (Where “parentheticals” means little asides like this one.)

  • 💪 Training: This isn’t a “give you a fish” newsletter — I’ll share my sources and help you develop a Silicon Valley media diet of your own.

About your correspondent

I’m Christian Keil, pronounced “Kyle.” I grew up in Minnesota, went to Michigan, and moved back to Minneapolis to work as a management consultant — before I was bit by the startup bug and moved to the Bay Area in 2017.

I’m currently the Chief of Staff at Astranis, an Andreessen Horowitz-funded, Series B startup making next-generation internet satellites to get the world online. I also advise Empowerly, a startup that helps everyone, not just trust-fund babies, get into the colleges of their dreams. I’m a member of the OnDeck Writer’s Fellowship and the Renaissance Collective.