Reading from the same playbook as Texas Governor Rick Perry, Mayor Bloomberg toured the Bay Area this weekend trying to lure tech investors and young grads back east with promises of good times and pretty girls. As if San Francisco was just one extended sequence of Revenge of the Nerds.
The mayor took some time out of his schedule to genuflect at the altar of Twitter, where he and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced a joint Alley/Valley summit for the tech industry’s big players to think the Big Ideas. Bloomberg then made his way to Palo Alto to deliver a speech to Stanford’s graduating class.
Promising the young grads that there’s “more to do on a Friday night than go to the Pizza Hut in Sunnyvale, [Calif.] and you may even be able to find a date with a girl whose name is not Siri” (heh), Bloomberg continued his campaign to remake Lower Manhattan’s economic structure in the image of San Jose’s, except our Siri works at that gallery on the Bowery. You know the one.
Yeah, it’s true that a city of over 8 million might have more things going on than your typical Californian suburb. And yeah, over 11 percent of all venture capital investments in the U.S. land here, second only to Silicon Valley. But San Francisco seems like a pretty great place to live too, no?
These past few days even mayoral candidates have been going out of their way with a similar sell: Come to New York, because we do business in style. CNBC reports that all four candidates present at Monday night’s Mayoral Candidate Tech Policy Forum in Long Island City said essentially the same thing: “If you think Williamsburg is cool now, wait till we rezone it for commercial office space!”
Beyond the patent strangeness of Bloomberg enticing computer scientists with hot dates, I wonder if these politicians’ strain of hawking New York’s cultural amenities is lost on this crowd. In March, the East Bay Express noted that many in the tech industry have no interest in the many diversions available in San Francisco, let alone here.
They aren’t putting much of their bloated fortunes into the city’s long-standing attractions like museums, operas, or galleries. (In fairness, I don’t know many twentysomethings in any city that do.) Instead, they sink it into things like “dress-sweatpants” and hiring assistants to buy 3,000 cans of Diet Coke and stack them pyramid-style in a startup’s lobby.
So, Mayor Bloomberg, you might want to rework your pitch.