Miami is a city ‘that unblushingly loves rule-breaking and money,’ according to a new article in New York magazine, wondering whether Miami could ever really replace Silicon Valley as ‘a more natural home — and maybe even an accelerant — for the next generation of disruption fiends.’
On December 4, Delian Asparouhov, a venture capitalist in San Francisco, posted, ‘ok guys hear me out, what if we move silicon valley to Miami,’ and Miami mayor Francis Suarez, lying in bed at home in Coconut Grove, replied, ‘How can I help…?’ Ever since, Suarez has been on a mission to rebrand Miami — long a place to spend money, rather than earn it — as a haven for founders who feel underappreciated in more calcified urban climes. He bought (with money from a venture capitalist) billboards in San Francisco featuring his Twitter handle and an invitation to ‘DM me.’ As he put it, ‘I saw the tsunami coming, got out my surfboard, and started paddling.’
The flood of new Miamians who have arrived, full or part time, during the pandemic includes tech investors (Peter Thiel, David Sacks), cryptocurrency bulls (Anthony Pompliano, Ari Paul), new-media tycoons (Bryan Goldberg, Dave Portnoy), start-up founders (Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Steven Galanis), and many more who aren’t yet billionaires but think the Magic City will give them their best shot… The boom is visible in the city’s crane-spiked skyline, too, with deals for Spotify, Microsoft, Apple, and TikTok either signed or in the offing. In greater South Florida, a related incursion by the finance industry — Goldman Sachs, Citadel, Elliott — is in full swing… In July, according to Redfin, Miami was the top migration destination for home buyers in the U.S., while San Francisco had the largest homeowner exodus. Suarez told me about a playful text he recently received from the mayor there, London Breed: ‘Stop stealing my techies.’ He says he replied, ‘Sorry, London, I love you, but no.’
Already, Suarez has made gains in turning Miami into the most cryptocurrency-friendly city in the U.S. In the past six months, the world’s largest bitcoin conference happened here; a crypto exchange called FTX paid $135 million for the naming rights to the NBA arena (edging out the hometown porn studio BangBros); and a city-sanctioned currency called MiamiCoin debuted, generating millions in fees for municipal coffers. Suarez also accepts campaign contributions in bitcoin. He’s running for reelection this November and looks certain to win, thanks in part to hefty donations and cheerleading from Silicon Valley eminences…
The tech case for Miami isn’t wholly persuasive. (The most notable local start-up is a company that sells kibble.) But it is infectious.
The article notes, for example, that ‘For all his enthusiasm, Suarez acknowledges that a robust tech ecosystem needs one thing he can’t simply market into existence: a standout university’ (with a world-class engineering department to fuel startups). Suarez’s solution appears to be offering Miami land parcels to Florida Polytechnic University for a possible satellite campus teaching DeFi/crypto/blockchain/NFT technologies.
The article also points out the possibility of global warming-induced hurricanes and rising sea levels, the city’s widening income gap and rising cost of living, and Miami’s record number of pediatric-ICU COVID admissions.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.