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Silicon Valley South

When people ask where Apposite is located, in an attempt to be humorous I often answer “Silicon Valley South.”  To which I usually get a blank stare.  So let me state clearly, we’re in Los Angeles.  Right smack in the heart of West LA, between Santa Monica, Westwood, Beverly Hills, and Culver City, amongst all the movie stars. You can see the always congested intersection of the 405 and 10 right out our windows.  The unasked question then is, “What the heck are we doing here?” And that takes some understanding of Apposite’s history.
Way back when, in the nether reaches of history, when people were required to have a beard, unkempt hair, and chalk-stained pants to be allowed to use what wasn’t even yet called the Internet, Silicon Valley was just a cheap place to build a chip foundry among the orchards, and Los Angeles was the center of networking protocols development.
The combination of UCLA (the first node of the Internet) and USC/ISI on the academic side and a concentrated defense electronics industry made the town a haven for networking research, and many of the early protocols vendors including Network Research Corp. (NRC), Redix, Trillium, and Pacific Softworks were based here.
One company, Mentat, came a bit later, founded by a team from NRC.  Mentat developed TCP/IP and other now forgotten networking protocols (XNS, XTP, IPX/SPX) for many of the OS vendors – Sun, Apple, HP, IBM, Palm, and other big names that have long since extricated themselves from the business of writing their own proprietary operating system. Now that the OS choice has boiled down to Windows vs. Linux and networking means TCP/IP (long live DecNet!) there are few if any protocol development companies remaining.
Out of its work in TCP/IP, Mentat refocused on optimizing network performance and became an early pioneer in WAN acceleration, releasing the SkyX products years before the Riverbed team left Inktomi and BlueCoat was still CacheFlow. The company was acquired by Packeteer in 2004 to combine WAN acceleration with QoS, and Packeteer was subsequently gobbled up by BlueCoat to combine QoS and WAN acceleration with security.
The entire time, the team stayed together in West LA with a small group breaking away to found Apposite in 2005, and other former colleagues joining later, taking the furniture with them as BlueCoat shuttered the LA office.  Meanwhile, the defense industry trickled out of Los Angeles and Silicon Valley exploded as the center of the universe for anything remotely connected to computer networking.
Despite an abortive attempt during the bubble years to rebadge Southern California as “Tech Coast,” Los Angeles is now more of a Tech Desert, with few technology businesses not tied to Hollywood other than a small test & measurement cluster in Calabasas centered around Spirent and Ixia.  But we’re still here, basking in the cool breeze off the ocean and the enjoying the views of Catalina Island and the Santa Monica Mountains out our windows. We’ll refrain from gloating about the weather so long as you don’t ask us about the traffic.

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