Used to be, Orange County was known for yachts and Disneyland, but now there's a lot more bubbling in the Big Orange, a coastal county south of Los Angeles. Among the biggies there: lots of dot-com companies (Autobytel, Buy.com, Shopping.com), more established tech leaders (like Kingston and Western Digital), and even Lincoln Mercury (which recently moved its headquarters there).
What's fueled Orange County's transformation? We asked Rick Reiff, editor of the Orange County Business Journal.
Why it's hot: "It's a magnet for brainy people," says Reiff, adding that the region thrives on ethnic diversity--"many tech companies are run and staffed by Vietnamese, Chinese and other minorities."
What's not so hot: "Nowhere to walk to," says Reiff. "Lacks the multimedia, show-biz sizzle of neighboring Los Angeles. Home prices are soaring."
Hot networking spot: The Chief Executive Roundtable at the University of California at Irvine, the Association for Corporate Growth, the Software Council and the Society for Internet Advancement.
Power eats: Bistango and PF Chang's, but as Reiff notes, "many worker bees bag their lunches or order in."