The Great California Time Myth

IMG_0378I deal in myths all the time in building a tech business (i.e. how easy it is, how hard it is, how you need traction to get investors, how you don’t need traction to get investors…).

But the most frustrating myth I’ve had to deal with is is the myth that being based in California is a great place to do business with Asia.

This is simply not true!

What prompted me to look at this were two things: 1) flights that were are too long and 2) having to either get up at 4AM to make a phone call or stay up until after 10PM to make a call.

So I sat down to do some research and I compared how long the flights are to go from San Francisco to Japan, China and India to how long it takes to go to the same destinations from London or Paris.

If I add up all the travel time from San Francisco to all my Asia destinations it’s 44 hours and 15 minutes.

If I add up all the travel time from London or Paris to all my Asia destinations it’s 31 hours and 15 minutes.

So, leaving from either London or Paris is 13 hours less than if I leave from San Francisco! I never expected that. That’s the equivalent of one trip!

Here’s the data:

Flights From San Francisco to Asia

  • San Francisco to Tokyo, Japan: 10 hours and 30 minutes
  • San Francisco to Beijing, China: 12 hours and 5 minutes
  • San Francisco to Bengaluru, India: 21 hours and 40 minutes

Flights From London or Paris to Asia

  • London or Paris to Tokyo, Japan: 11 hours and 35 minutes
  • London or Paris to Beijing, China: 9 hours and 55 minutes
  • London or Paris to Bengalura, India: 9 hours and 45 mintues

[As an aside, for some strange reason the flight times are exactly the same from London or Paris. I imagine the UK flights speed up so as to make sure the French don’t have the advantage; but there’s probably some better explanation having to do with flight paths.]

So, what about phone calls?

Calling From San Francisco to Asia

  • If it’s 8PM in San Francisco it’s 10AM in Indonesia
  • If it’s 8PM in San Francisco it’s 12PM noon in Japan
  • If it’s 8PM in San Francisco it’s 11AM in China
  • If it’s 8PM in San Francisco it’s 8:30AM in India

So, in order to catch a big time window with Asia I’ve got to start calling them at about 8PM San Francisco time and speak to them until 11PM or 12 midnight California time. This means I have to forget about evening meetings or pitch events in the Bay Area or having dinner with friends.

However, if I call Asia from London or Paris I effectively can make my calls from about 8AM to about 11AM which puts these calls in the “regular” part of a day.

Calling From London or Paris to Asia*
* If from Paris, subtract one hour to where you are calling

  • If it’s 9AM in London it’s 3PM in Indonesia
  • If it’s 9AM in London it’s 5PM in Japan
  • If it’s 9AM in London it’s 4PM in China
  • If it’s 9AM in London it’s 1:30PM in Bengaluru

So, there you have it. A European base makes more sense if you’re speaking to a lot of clients in Asia and if you travel a lot to Asia. Who would have thought?

Of course, you have to live there. So you have to decide: do you prefer roast beef, steak haché or hamburgers?

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