UVA Clubs

The Road Not Taken: Why I Pivoted from Hollywood to Silicon Valley – Sam Shank, CEO and Co-Founder at HotelTonight


When I was young, I didn’t necessarily dream of moving to San Francisco to found a startup, or about working in the travel industry. I knew, though, that I wanted to do something creative, and I had grand plans to move to Hollywood and make my mark as a film director.

In pursuit of this goal, I did a lot of videography in college, and started and ran the TV station at UVA. After graduation, I made my way out West and was lucky enough to land a job working on Scream as an assistant to Wes Craven and his producing partner Marianne Maddalena. (If you look closely, you may spot me as an extra in one of the high school scenes.)

After the film wrapped, I narrowed my next move down to two options: Head to San Francisco and work in the emerging tech industry at CNET, or stay in LA to work on “new media” for CAA Media Lab. After a lot of thought, I opted to leave my Hollywood dreams behind for new frontiers in SF.

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