Héctor Beltrán

The Rise of the Latin@/American Technology Startup Boom

My project ethnographically investigates the rise of the Latin@/American tech startup boom by moving between two physical sites: Mexico City and the San Francisco Bay area. In the bay area, community organizations are contending with the fact that less than 1% of venture-backed technology startups are founded by Latinos, and statistics on Latina representation are even more bleak. Their response has been to organize the techno-social networks necessary to increase the number of Latin@-owned startups. Across Latin America, key actors are currently developing technology infrastructure and organizational networks to help create their own versions of the Silicon Valley; I focus specifically on the rise of the “Mexican Silicon Valley.” As these two movements coalesce, I move between both sites to seek out projects aimed toward “community empowerment” or against a hypermasculine “brogrammer” culture to explore how these efforts look different from these locations. Doing so elucidates how the intersections of Latinidad and gender are constructed differently across multifaceted borders. Thus, the Latin@/American technology startup boom becomes a crucial site to ethnographically highlight the asymmetrical relations of race, gender, and class as constitutive organizing principles of an “exportable” Silicon Valley. Frequently portrayed and celebrated as a unique space of openness and innovation where it doesn’t matter who you are but what you do, I depict a tech startup boom shot through with embodiment and color.