Most Americans have never heard of Emeryville, California. Those who have probably know it as a place where they got stuck on a traffic-clogged stretch of highway overlooking a giant IKEA.
Yet Emeryville, a largely concrete-surfaced city covering all of two square miles, has a lot more entrepreneurial clout than meets the eye. Companies in this San Francisco Bay Area city of around 10,000 have raised more than half a billion dollars in venture funding over the past three years. That total handily beats much larger metropolises, including Dallas, Portland and even neighboring Oakland.
Emeryville isn’t alone. San Francisco Bay Area companies raise so much venture capital relative to other places that a lot of little-known cities in the region outrank major metropolises in total funding.
In this two-part series, we’ll look at nine under-the-radar places in the Bay Area that punch above their weight class when it comes to attracting startup funding. For today, we’ll focus on the East Bay, the sprawling, two-county area on the other side of the bridge from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Here are some of the cities that made our list:
Hayward is pretty much in the geographic center of the San Francisco Bay Area. Generally speaking, however, this city of 150,000 is known as a place you commute from, rather than commute to.
But that may be shifting. In the past three years, Hayward-based companies have raised more than $490 million in venture funding. That’s more than Portland, Oregon (population 640,000) and more than triple San Antonio, Texas (population 1.5 million).
Even with all that capital flowing in, Hayward doesn’t have a reputation as a startup hub. It’s not where you go to see industrial chic co-working spaces filled with espresso-sipping twentysomethings working on the next killer app. However, Hayward does appeal to companies that need space in a location that’s accessible to most Silicon Valley workers.
In recent years, the majority of Hayward’s venture funding has gone to biotechnology companies, like Arcus Biosciences, a developer of cancer therapies that raised a $70 million round in September, and MicuRx, which develops antibodies to treat drug-resistant infections. Hayward is also making inroads as an energy startup hub. Primus Power, a provider of utility-scale battery storage, is there, as is Alphabet Energy, which is developing technology to convert waste heat to energy.