Tuesday, March 6, 2018

City by the Bay

I just returned from my pot tour of San Francisco, city I lived in for a decade but have not truly spent any time in that same frame of time,  so to return to the City and to see an entire city undergo gentrification to the level San Francisco has it was interesting in a way that when asked about how I like Nashville and respond, "It's interesting" is a phrase that means I am unsure of what I mean or what to say.  

I am not a nostalgic individual and I very much live in the moment.  During my walks I found my old apartment and the area is virtually untouched for a small radius and then not.  I walked the same paths I had with my beautiful pup and realized that same journey would be quite different today given the amount of buildings and living spaces crowding out old industrial businesses and shoving against tightly knit older units.  Ferry Plaza is the same and more vibrant and alive than before; However, the Tenderloin despite it all is still resistant to the emerging change and my favorite dive The Phoenix Hotel still stands surrounded by junkies and homeless where daily the sidewalk is hosed down and the street cleaned for needles but even too that seemed out of place in this ever changing city.   The Hotel Management has changed but the ambiance is still trashy chic but as I walked down Eddy and toured the hood, I stepped over both human and dog shit and passed one after another individual whose torments have long won the battle for their soul and mind.  And as they thrash and wretch in pain a Mercedes pulls out of a garage and pulls away as if to say this is the new City and begone with the old.    And this is a City that its entire existence is change but spare change is seemingly all that is offered to the endless requests for food, money, aid.   It is painful to watch but that balm of CBD aids in calming the spirit.

On Sunday sitting in Blue Bottle Coffee at the Mint I sat next to the new San Franciscan who took endless photos of their food to obviously post on Social Media while talking with words largely comprised of superlatives and vacuous thoughts that comprised conversation.  It was the norm that led me to finally acknowledge I am old and truly don't give a flying fuck about Millennial's.  These group are truly the most self indulgent ignorant shits that have enabled guns, drugs and other social issues to magnify in their pursuit of wealth.  For this generation they  make YUPPIES (my cohort) seem utterly boring in their duplicity of their social class that they wrapped in irony and satire but was just that a replication of their own personal history and culture. This is the self entitled indulgent class that defines spoiled

 I use the world "culture" as it defines ones tastes, belief system and social identification.  It enables a group think and a sense of belonging that enables one to find one's tribe and sense of self.  Funny how that worked out that out of that came two individuals who defined a generation of boomers - Michelle and Barack Obama - and yet I cannot think of two more stronger people that show the power of identity that is rooted in diversity that frankly I don't see today.  The lines and divisions are more stratified and defined in ways that my generation fought to erase.  Know your place and that place is a safe place with trigger words and stifled speech, a collapse of free press, a democracy under threat and wealth and money are the only idols we worship.  Take a look in the mirror MeMe's and ask yourself if you know who you are and frankly I doubt you could truly answer the question as the answer would be, "I'm different like everyone else."

I turn to the kids, the children of Parkland to lead us.  We need someone as clearly we have no one as I made this observation when in San Francisco when buying a newspaper the clerk queried if there was anyone running our Government and my response was a definitive no.

San Francisco is being run by adult children and currently the dorm like residences they are now creating, another version of the cell blocks that comprised the last fad of two years ago and the weird WeWork domiciles that are some hybrid of the factories we hear about in Asia where you live where you work and make 30 bucks a day until it burns down.    The New York Times in a desperate attempt to generate some readers to their paper have one series after another about this to the point I feel that they forget that social news is not news and their groundbreaking work is what brings eyes to page, the narcissism of the MEME generation despite the pandering will not change the fact that these morons do not read - anything.  Not true they read social media and hence that makes it easier for anyone with an agenda to inform and misinform without recourse.  I do also think that this is the first generation of testing bots and it shows as their ability to critically think and analyze is nearly non-existent and why they have no imagination other that duplication and repetition. How may Apps are there that largely do the same thing - walk your dog, clean your house, run errands or have someone drive you in their car?

What I did find interesting is that San Francisco has now priced itself out of its own marketplace.  You can only charge outlandish rents when salaries are sufficient to cover said rents, hence the dorms, but then one day you want to grow up and then where do you go? The suburbs and the push for transit in the Bay Area show that it is again an issue but that housing prices to even purchase are so absurd that at one point you ask if that 3M shack that will cost millions in upkeep is going to be worth it. And the rich like to stay that way and when salaries cut into profits finding ways to reduce them means relocation and hence the Seattle push until it too hit the ceiling means that the heartland is the new horizon it appears but as we know appearances are deceiving.

I will always have memories of San Francisco, some fond, some not, but that is what comprises a decade of living.  I don't think I will hit that mark here in Nashville and right now if I hit three years and can find even a small percentage of good ones I will be relieved. I will know that Nashville has hit peak idiocy when we start dorm housing.  We have cell blocks coming across the street which I don't think will be replicated elsewhere as frankly we are hitting the wall here with housing in ways that are not reflecting the reality here with jobs and incomes.  There is ASperations and DESperation that are the two major factors of what it is like to live in the South.

Where will the next Silicon Valley be?  Where else? Silicon Valley its not going anywhere as that requires work and stuff and the MEME class are not doing that anytime soon.



Silicon Valley Is Over, Says Silicon Valley

Kevin Roose
THE SHIFT THE NEW YORK TIMES
MARCH 4, 2018


“Oh my god, this is so cute!”

Robin Li, an investor with the San Francisco venture capital firm GGV Capital, was standing in the lobby of the Madison building in downtown Detroit. Built in 1917 as a theater and refurbished several years ago as a tech co-working space, the Madison checks all of the aesthetic boxes of hipsterdom: reclaimed wood, exposed brick walls, pour-over coffee served by tattooed baristas.

“This is nicer than San Francisco,” Ms. Li concluded.

Last month, I accompanied Ms. Li and roughly a dozen other venture capitalists on a three-day bus trip through the Midwest, with stops in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio; Detroit and Flint, Mich.; and South Bend, Ind. The trip, which took place on a luxury bus outfitted with a supply of vegan doughnuts and coal-infused kombucha, was known as the “Comeback Cities Tour.”

It was pitched as a kind of Rust Belt safari — a chance for Silicon Valley investors to meet local officials and look for promising start-ups in overlooked areas of the country.
Photo
The tour making a stop in Youngstown, Ohio. From left, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown of Youngstown and Mayor William Franklin of Warren, Ohio, with Mr. Ryan. Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

But a funny thing happened: By the end of the tour, the coastal elites had caught the heartland bug. Several used Zillow, the real estate app, to gawk at the availability of cheap homes in cities like Detroit and South Bend and fantasize about relocating there. They marveled at how even old-line manufacturing cities now offer a convincing simulacrum of coastal life, complete with artisanal soap stores and farm-to-table restaurants.

“If it weren’t for my kids, I’d totally move,” said Cyan Banister, a partner at Founders Fund. “This could be a really powerful ecosystem.”
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These investors aren’t alone. In recent months, a growing number of tech leaders have been flirting with the idea of leaving Silicon Valley. Some cite the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco and its suburbs, where even a million-dollar salary can feel middle class. Others complain about local criticism of the tech industry and a left-wing echo chamber that stifles opposing views. And yet others feel that better innovation is happening elsewhere.

“I’m a little over San Francisco,” said Patrick McKenna, the founder of High Ridge Venture Partners who was also on the bus tour. “It’s so expensive, it’s so congested, and frankly, you also see opportunities in other places.”

Mr. McKenna, who owns a house in Miami in addition to his home in San Francisco, told me that his travels outside the Bay Area had opened his eyes to a world beyond the tech bubble.

“Every single person in San Francisco is talking about the same things, whether it’s ‘I hate Trump’ or ‘I’m going to do blockchain and Bitcoin,’” he said. “It’s the worst part of the social network.”

The tour through the Midwest was organized by Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents northeastern Ohio. Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat who represents Silicon Valley, came along for the ride, as did J. D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.” (Mr. Vance, a venture capitalist who now seems to magically appear every time the words “Midwest” and “manufacturing” are spoken aloud, has also been leading his own whistle-stop tours of the region.)

Recently, Peter Thiel, the President Trump-supporting billionaire investor and Facebook board member, became Silicon Valley’s highest-profile defector when he reportedly told people close to him that he was moving to Los Angeles full-time, and relocating his personal investment funds there. (Founders Fund and Mithril Capital, two other firms started by Mr. Thiel, will remain in the Bay Area.) Mr. Thiel reportedly considered San Francisco’s progressive culture “toxic,” and sought out a city with more intellectual diversity.

Mr. Thiel’s criticisms were echoed by Michael Moritz, the billionaire founder of Sequoia Capital. In a recent Financial Times op-ed, Mr. Moritz argued that Silicon Valley had become slow and spoiled by its success, and that “soul-sapping discussions” about politics and social injustice had distracted tech companies from the work of innovation.

Complaints about Silicon Valley insularity are as old as the Valley itself. Jim Clark, the co-founder of Netscape, famously decamped for Florida during the first dot-com era, complaining about high taxes and expensive real estate. Steve Case, the founder of AOL, has pledged to invest mostly in start-ups outside the Bay Area, saying that “we’ve probably hit peak Silicon Valley.”

But even among those who enjoy living in the Bay Area, and can afford to do so comfortably, there’s a feeling that success has gone to the tech industry’s head.

“Some of the engineers in the Valley have the biggest egos known to humankind,” Mr. Khanna, the Silicon Valley congressman, said during a round-table discussion with officials in Youngstown. “If they don’t have their coffee and breakfast and dry cleaning, they want to go somewhere else. Whereas here, people are hungry.”

This isn’t a full-blown exodus yet. But in the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country, according to data from Redfin, the real estate website. A recent survey by Edelman, the public relations firm, found that 49 percent of Bay Area residents, and 58 percent of Bay Area millennials, were considering moving away. And a sharp increase in people moving out of the Bay Area has led to a shortage of moving vans. (According to local news reports, renting a U-Haul for a one-way trip from San Jose to Las Vegas now costs roughly $2,000, compared with just $100 for a truck going the other direction.)

For both investors and rank-and-file workers, one appeal of noncoastal cities is the obvious cost savings. It’s increasingly difficult to justify doling out steep salaries and lavish perks demanded by engineers in the Bay Area, when programmers in other cities can be had for as little as $50,000 a year. (An entry-level engineer at Facebook or Google might command triple or quadruple that amount.)

When you invest in a San Francisco start-up, “you’re basically paying landlords, Twilio, and Amazon Web Services,” said Ms. Bannister of Founders Fund, referring to the companies that provide start-ups with messaging services and data hosting.

Granted, California still has its perks. Venture capital investment is still largely concentrated on the West Coast, as are the clusters of talented computer scientists who emerge from prestigious schools like Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley. Despite the existence of tools like Slack, which make remote work easier, many tech workers feel it’s still an advantage to be close to the center of the action.

But the region’s advantages may be eroding. Google, Facebook and other large tech companies have recently opened offices in cities like Boulder, Colo. and Boston, hoping to attract new talent as well as accommodating requests from existing employees looking to move elsewhere. And the hot demand for engineers in areas like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles has led companies to expand their presence near research universities, in cities like Pittsburgh and Ann Arbor. Then there is HQ2, Amazon’s much-ballyhooed search for a second headquarters, which seems to have convinced some tech executives that cities between the coasts may be viable alternatives.

Venture capitalists, who recognize a bargain when they see one, have already begun scouring the Midwest. Mr. Case and Mr. Vance recently amassed a $150 million fund called “Rise of the Rest.” The fund, which was backed by tech luminaries including Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Alphabet, will invest in start-ups throughout the region.

But it’s not just about making money. It’s about social comfort, too. Tech companies are more popular in noncoastal states than in their own backyards, where the industry’s effect on housing prices and traffic congestion is more acutely felt. Most large tech companies still rate highly in national opinion surveys, but only 62 percent of Californians say they trust the tech industry, and just 37 percent trust social media companies, according to the Edelman survey. So you can start to understand the appeal of a friendlier environment.

During the Akron stop of the bus trip, while the Silicon Valley investors mingled with local officials over a dinner spread of vegan polenta pizza and barbecue sliders, Mr. McKenna, the San Francisco venture capitalist, told me that he felt a difference in people’s attitudes in cities like these, where the tech industry’s success is still seen as something to celebrate.

“People want to be in places where they’re the hero,” he said.












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