A Tale of Two Cities

I am in San Francisco meeting with the Kover guys.  Excited about what they are doing.  I came a day early.  One reason is sometimes it snows in Chicago, and I wanted to give myself enough time to get here so I wouldn’t be late.  The second reason is, anytime I can get out of the winter in Chicago, I take advantage of it.

I landed and walked the city.

I spent a month here a couple of years ago.  I was shocked at how radically different it was.  It’s gone totally downhill.  I read all the stuff online about how dirty and disgusting San Francisco is.  I try not to believe it.  I know what I read about Chicago and a lot of times it is inaccurate.  The stuff they are writing about San Francisco is totally accurate.  everywhere.  I mean everywhere.

The city smells like pee and poo.  There is garbage everywhere.  It’s disgusting.  I took the BART from the airport to the Civic Center and when I got off the stench was horrible.  It’s a tough place to try and attract employees.

I asked an Uber driver about it.  He said he’s lived here 50 years and in the last three, it’s really gone way downhill.  Every single policy they try only incentivizes more homeless.  Appeasement doesn’t work when you are trying to solve problems.

Chicago has a homeless problem and so does NYC.  But, SF’s is exponentially larger as is LA’s.

I spent time at a private club in Union Square to watch the playoffs and walked up to Nob Hill where I am staying.  Less homeless. Cleaner streets.  It was like San Francisco that I remember from the mid 80’s. Of course, I was at a private club, and in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the US.  Not exactly a random sample or typical experience.  The typical experience is grunge and a total mess.

If you could build a company outside of San Francisco, I would seriously think about it.  Places in the Midwest get cold and that keeps people away.  But, there is a quality of life too.  If you want an honest opinion about the differences there are a lot of Midwestern entrepreneurs that have been in both places.  Some VCs.  Ask them.

Again, I don’t think people ought to view this as slicing a fixed pie.  It’s growing a bigger pie.

Chicago, New York, and other cities have a tremendous opportunity.  There is an opening.  If they enact the right policies, they won’t blow it.    There is a breaking point because of costs/opportunity costs.  I think we are close.  When the early stage capital gets comfortable investing outside of the Bay Area, the entrepreneurs will be comfortable too.

I hope you can support this effort I am leading.  I am raising money to dedicate a hotel suite to the Unknown Soldier at the new National World War Two Museum hotel.  Any proceeds over and above dedicating that space will go to Museum STEM projects dedicated to helping grade school children across the United States learn STEM.