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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Twenty-Five Square Miles Surrounded by Reality

Comments (14)

The New York Times Magazine had an outstanding article on Boulder today.  The photos paint an accurate picture and the article captures the essence of a place that I love.

I moved to Boulder in 1995.  Last year while fundraising, I was regularly asked "how did you end up in Boulder?"  Following is the short version of the story (which will sound familiar to anyone that has heard it – feel free to skip the indented paragraph.)

I moved to Boston from Dallas in 1983 to go to MIT.  I lived in Boston for a little over 12 years – that was 11 years and 364 days too many.  I liked Boston and wouldn’t trade my experience at MIT for anything, but Boston was just never home for me.  I sold my first company in 1993 and told my wife Amy that by the time I turned 30 (12/1/95) we’d have left Boston.  Two months before I turned 30, Amy told me she was moving to Boulder and I was welcome to join her if I wanted.  I figured that my worst case scenario was that we wouldn’t like Boulder and we’d keep heading west to the bay area.  When we got to Boulder we knew one person; he moved away six months later.  So we were really starting from scratch.  Every day was better than the preceding one and after six months we bought a house in the mountains and knew that Boulder would be our home base for the balance of our time on this planet.

I have now lived in Boulder longer than I lived in Boston (and not quite as long as I lived in Dallas.)  Every day when I wake up in Boulder I fall in love with the place all over again.  I have houses in Keystone, Colorado and Homer, Alaska – which are also amazing places that I’m fortunate to spend time living in. Amy and I travel regularly (for work and pleasure) to a bunch of big cities that we love spending chunks of time in (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and even Boston.)  However, coming back to Boulder and our place in Eldorado Springs is always magically grounding.

The article had a few inaccuracies and missed plenty of things.  I’d add a couple of quick ones that jumped out at me:

  • Trustafarian - that’s the local word for the "vestigal hippies and wannabes" that live in their "trophy shacks."  Boulder is a safe place for a trustafarian.
  • Food – I’m bummed that the writer (Florence Williams) didn’t say more about The Kitchen.  My friends Kimbal and Hugo (and their incredible staff) have created a phenomenal local institution that any visitor should have a meal at.
  • Transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires: While dining at L’Atelier, the writer comments on being surrounded by a "mix of atmospheric scientists and transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires."  While Boulder has its share of transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires, I’d bet that the ones at L’Atelier that night were mostly of the home grown variety (there are a lot more of those than the transplants) as well as some trustafarians who felt like a nice high end meal.

While Boulder certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely for me and Amy.

  • john

    hey, thanks for the info about the article. i have lived here a while and am still amazed by the sight of the flatirons after a fresh snowfall or a beautifil summer day. i don't think i'll ever get tired of it. did you notice that boulder is fully integrated into google street view now!!!

  • Wayne

    I didn't much like the article. It seemed like the author was trying to see how many Boulder cliches she could stuff into it. If she liked the place, it was hard to tell through the condescending tone and the discussion of all the “strange” people she encountered.

    And someone writing for New York readers expressing surprise about half-million-dollar homes, or having to spend eight dollars for a milkshake and some fries, seemed a bit rich to me.

  • http://www.craigmische.com Craig Mische

    Boulder rocks (is this already a cliche in Boulder?).

  • Kate

    I love living in Boulder. A transplant from the western slope, and here I find home.

  • middle class, longti

    I've been in the area for the better part of 22 years, I wish these reporters, and their inaccurate cliches would finally go out of style. A report like this was done before, and better, by Sports Illustrated in 1989.

    Let them make fun of us, and leave Boulder (never to return), when they've spent all their money.

    BTW, I wouldn't go saying too much about the whole “lived in Dallas” thing. If you've truly paid attention, you know how we feel about Texans around here (and Silicon Valley types, for that matter).

    BTW pt 2. “Trustafarian” was first applied to the little remiitance kiddies at CU, who's parents live in Dallas, Boston, etc. who act and dress like poor Jamaican rejects, yet have $1,000,000 or more in the trust fund. To my knowledge, that is still the case. You'd think the NYT could get that right, but the “A-Team” ghost writers must have been up skiing in Aspen, or Yankees Spring Training.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Some of my best friends are Texans! Wait, I think I missed your point.

  • http://www.intela.com Jim – Intela

    I kind of get tired of the Boulder cliche's, ie liberal rich pot smoking prius driving millionaires, blah blah blah. Its a nice place to live period. Some of us drive big SUVs and could care less about the prairie dogs. Oh, and a few us might even vote Republican from time to time. Based on many of the large gratuitous homes, Cayennes, and Land Rovers I see there are plenty of Yuppies / non cliche Boulder people here too just like anywhere else that is nice / high end.

    We happen to have a internet company here in Boulder with 30 employees and over half the people own SUVs and not one drives a hybrid. A couple do care about the environment, but we do tolerate them :-)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      The cliches make better copy! FYI – I enjoy both of my SUVs and am even friends with a few republicans.

  • Mat

    Well I run a we start-up in London and have been looking at moving the family to Boulder since last year.

    Checked out Vancouver two weeks ago. Would love to hear people's views on the comparison between there and Boulder (size obviously :-)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Mat – I don't know Vancouver but I have a friend in Seattle that does (and has spent some time in Boulder.) Email me at brad@feld.com and I'll connect you. Reference this comment.

  • http://michjeanty.blogspot.com/ Michelin jeanty

    I've been to boulder, Co once. when I came to Techstars for a day. I've been in Boston for a while, I go to Harvard. To be honest, boston isn't my ideal place to live, but I don't know anywhere else. If and when I get accepted for Techstars, I'll have a chance to see.

  • http://boxofmeat.net/ J.D. Falk

    I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Louisville (a Boulder suburb) in November, to work for Return Path (one of Brad's successes.)

    Boulder's a lot of fun — even in the winter — but I keep calling it Berkeley by mistake. *grin*

  • Dave

    They play up NCAR's global warming cred but neglect to point out that the building is a massive eyesore on the mountain backdrop that was otherwise so carefully preserved.

  • Gary Carroll

    A few years ago an old friend came to visit and mentioned that his “group” did a half billion in sales last year. Well, I said that we were going to a Haloween party where there might be 15 to 20…….thousand people. We took him to the famous Boulder Mall Crawl. He was impressed.
    After a few years at Intel in Silicon Valley, we make the Boulder area our home since 1978.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/craig24 craig24

    Boulder rocks (is this already a cliche in Boulder?).

  • Kate

    I love living in Boulder. A transplant from the western slope, and here I find home.

  • middle class, longti

    I've been in the area for the better part of 22 years, I wish these reporters, and their inaccurate cliches would finally go out of style. A report like this was done before, and better, by Sports Illustrated in 1989.

    Let them make fun of us, and leave Boulder (never to return), when they've spent all their money.

    BTW, I wouldn't go saying too much about the whole "lived in Dallas" thing. If you've truly paid attention, you know how we feel about Texans around here (and Silicon Valley types, for that matter).

    BTW pt 2. "Trustafarian" was first applied to the little remiitance kiddies at CU, who's parents live in Dallas, Boston, etc. who act and dress like poor Jamaican rejects, yet have $1,000,000 or more in the trust fund. To my knowledge, that is still the case. You'd think the NYT could get that right, but the "A-Team" ghost writers must have been up skiing in Aspen, or Yankees Spring Training.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Some of my best friends are Texans! Wait, I think I missed your point.

  • john

    hey, thanks for the info about the article. i have lived here a while and am still amazed by the sight of the flatirons after a fresh snowfall or a beautifil summer day. i don't think i'll ever get tired of it. did you notice that boulder is fully integrated into google street view now!!!

  • Wayne

    I didn't much like the article. It seemed like the author was trying to see how many Boulder cliches she could stuff into it. If she liked the place, it was hard to tell through the condescending tone and the discussion of all the "strange" people she encountered.

    And someone writing for New York readers expressing surprise about half-million-dollar homes, or having to spend eight dollars for a milkshake and some fries, seemed a bit rich to me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jim122 jim122

    I kind of get tired of the Boulder cliche's, ie liberal rich pot smoking prius driving millionaires, blah blah blah. Its a nice place to live period. Some of us drive big SUVs and could care less about the prairie dogs. Oh, and a few us might even vote Republican from time to time. Based on many of the large gratuitous homes, Cayennes, and Land Rovers I see there are plenty of Yuppies / non cliche Boulder people here too just like anywhere else that is nice / high end.

    We happen to have a internet company here in Boulder with 30 employees and over half the people own SUVs and not one drives a hybrid. A couple do care about the environment, but we do tolerate them :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mat7960 mat7960

    Well I run a we start-up in London and have been looking at moving the family to Boulder since last year.

    Checked out Vancouver two weeks ago. Would love to hear people's views on the comparison between there and Boulder (size obviously :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Mat – I don't know Vancouver but I have a friend in Seattle that does (and has spent some time in Boulder.) Email me at brad@feld.com and I'll connect you. Reference this comment.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    The cliches make better copy! FYI – I enjoy both of my SUVs and am even friends with a few republicans.

  • Michelin jeanty

    I've been to boulder, Co once. when I came to Techstars for a day. I've been in Boston for a while, I go to Harvard. To be honest, boston isn't my ideal place to live, but I don't know anywhere else. If and when I get accepted for Techstars, I'll have a chance to see.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jdfalk jdfalk

    I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Louisville (a Boulder suburb) in November, to work for Return Path (one of Brad's successes.)

    Boulder's a lot of fun — even in the winter — but I keep calling it Berkeley by mistake. *grin*

  • Dave

    They play up NCAR's global warming cred but neglect to point out that the building is a massive eyesore on the mountain backdrop that was otherwise so carefully preserved.

  • Gary Carroll

    A few years ago an old friend came to visit and mentioned that his "group" did a half billion in sales last year. Well, I said that we were going to a Haloween party where there might be 15 to 20…….thousand people. We took him to the famous Boulder Mall Crawl. He was impressed.
    After a few years at Intel in Silicon Valley, we make the Boulder area our home since 1978.

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