James Whitbeck
Engineer @ alan
27 oct 2017Startup

From San Francisco to Alan

Two months ago, after nine years in San Francisco, including 4.5 wonderful years at Square, I moved to Paris with my family and started work at Alan. While this move had been in the works for a while, there were many learnings and discoveries along the way, both about the change of countries and about joining Alan.

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Moving to Paris 🛫 Across the pond 9 years later

The initial driver for my move to Paris was personal. I was born in Paris — of American parents — and had lived there all the way up to my move to San Francisco nine years ago. So I still had a lot of family ties and friends in Paris. And like many people, I couldn’t see myself living long term in San Francisco with my family. However, instead of migrating to the suburbs, my wife and I decided it was a ripe time to give Paris a go.

The one thing that worried me was walking away from a lot of professional and financial opportunities. Indeed, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley are the place to be for software engineers, in terms of the number of companies, the size of them, the breadth of the problems they tackle and the financial backing they enjoy.

Yet when I started interviewing in Paris, I was impressed! There is a real dynamism in the Paris tech scene, one that certainly wasn’t there a few years ago.

Not only are there many startups, but many are tackling really interesting problems. I found an interesting mix of French culture infused with elements of Silicon Valley culture, some of it brought back by the increasing number of engineers making the same move I was making.

Great companies I talked to include Algolia, Alkemics, Qonto, and obviously Alan. The ecosystem too is blooming, with lots of startup networks, meetups and accelerators : see Station F, NUMA or The Family for instance.