USC senior Eaphy Mao thought he would have to move away to Northern California after graduation to land a technology-related job, but he may be in luck.
Earlier this month, Internet giant Google opened a 100,000-square-foot campus in Venice Beach, just blocks away from the sun-kissed beaches and Venice's famed boardwalk.
Mao, who studied business, is ecstatic that Google has expanded in the Los Angeles area: "I would love to work for Google, and I'd rather stay in Southern California than move to Silicon Valley."
Google's move will bring much-needed technology jobs to Southern California, and could be the beginnings of LA's new technology sector. Google first opened an office in LA in 2003 when it acquired Applied Semantics, the Santa Monica-based company that created the technology behind Google AdWords. At the time Google had only a dozen employees in the area.
Mao says a lot of his friends, specifically those in tech consulting, have no choice but to move to Northern California after they graduate because there simply aren't engineering and tech jobs in the LA area: "There are a lot of qualified technology and science majors graduating from [schools in Southern California], but around LA there are only jobs in show business and entertainment."
If LA is able to establish itself as a technology center, Mao believes it will keep qualified workers in the area.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a similar hope of growing LA's technology industry: "I couldn't be prouder to welcome you to Silicon Beach," the mayor said in a Nov. 3 speech to commemorate Google's official opening at the Venice site.
The mayor applauded the move as the "the convergence of technology, and innovation, and creativity." Villaraigosa said that the move has already enticed a group of investors who are now looking for small tech businesses to fund in the area.
The Venice campus is made of up three adjacent buildings, including the Binocular Building, designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry also designed the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA.
Google's presence is good news for a city that is struggling with a 11.3 percent unemployment rate.
"I am particularly happy that [Google's] large number of employees will be contributing to our local economy," LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl said in a statement. "This should be a huge boon to the restaurants and shops on Main Street, Rose Avenue, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard."
About 500 employees began work at Google Venice on opening day, and the company is looking to expand its Southern California team. Google plans on leveraging the strategic Venice Beach location to attract top recruits from nearby universities, Google's senior vice president Susan Wojcicki told the LA Times.
But would Silicon Beach be attractive enough to lure people from Silicon Valley?
Charley Ho, a junior majoring in electrical engineering at Stanford University, hopes to work for Google one day, but says he would rather work at the company's site in Northern California than move down to Venice Beach: "Northern California is definitely still better for engineering majors."
Ho added that Google's main site in Mountain View - called the Googleplex - is unbeatable, offering video games, volleyball courts, massage chairs, pianos, and scooters for efficient transportation between meetings.
"I can see why some [graduates] would want to work in Southern California, but as far as opportunities for engineering and computer science go, Silicon Valley is still better."