Three Mayors on the Future of Tech in The U.S.
The mayors of Miami, Madison, and Austin join Big Technology Podcast to talk about their cities’ relationship with the tech industry
OneZero is partnering with the Big Technology Podcast from Alex Kantrowitz to bring readers exclusive access to interview transcripts — edited for length and clarity — with notable figures in and around the tech industry.
Three U.S. mayors join Big Technology Podcast to talk about the future of technology in the United States. They are Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison, and Mayor Steve Adler of Austin.
The mayors are showing up on a tech podcast because they see an opportunity to take some of the growth once headed to the Bay Area, and bring it home. Though, as residents in San Francisco and its environs know, such growth can come with challenges. Tellingly, out of the four mayors asked to be on the show, only San Francisco Mayor London Breed, declined.
What’s clear from speaking with the mayors is that remote work is not going away anytime soon. And that presents opportunities for people and cities that simply were not there before. This will have an impact on the country’s economy, and the tech industry as well, for reasons we discuss.
Mayor Francis Suarez
Alex Kantrowitz: Mayor Suarez, welcome to the show.
Mayor Suarez: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be with you.
We’re hearing a lot about a tech boom to Miami, but I recently published LinkedIn data that showed only a slight uptick in tech worker migration to your city. What does your data say?
There isn’t any real good data that I’ve seen. It’s all anecdotal. But clearly, there’s a brain gain versus a brain drain. We’ve been an intellectual talent exporter for decades. So the fact that we’re already on the positive side is a huge improvement over decades of being on the negative side. I think that number has only accelerated in the last 60 to 90 days.
The people that I’m meeting with, the people that I’m speaking to and seeing, it’s incredible what’s happening here. There isn’t anybody of weight and significance in tech that I haven’t spoken to or seen in the last two months.
Okay, but the hiring that you’re seeing inside Miami, where is it coming from? And how are you sure that it’s permanent?
We’re seeing big companies, like Blackstone, Starwood, JP Morgan, Goldman, and we’re seeing big founders like Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois and Lucy Guo and others that are coming here. Jon Oringer from Shutterstock. And then we’re seeing them start up companies and either recruit talent or hire talent from here. The ecosystem is experiencing what I would consider a J-curve moment. It’s like a startup that has been taking 10 years to build, and it got its first big infusion of VC capital, right? We’re starting to see a major scale.
To what extent that scale is, how profound it is, there’s a few things I can tell you. One is that, for every one or two Keith Rabois and Jon Oringers that we talk about, there’s a good 10 to 20 that don’t want to be talked about that are here. I think that’s something that when I talk to people, they’re constantly relaying that.
Second thing I would tell you is if you talk to people like Keith, looking at the density issue, he would say, “We’ve met more interesting, more profound, and more important people in three weeks, a week, a month in Miami than we had in the three years prior in Silicon Valley.” There’s a density of that really top-tier talent here.
The second question about how long will it last, is this a moment or a movement, I think that question has yet to be answered fully. A lot of them are buying property. What Keith Rabois often says, which I’m repeating because we did a talk the other day, is: “I just want them here for a month. If I get them here for a month, I know I have them for good.”
There’s probably a bias among people moving to Miami to hate on Silicon Valley and use that as positioning, so that probably factors into people saying they’ve met more interesting people in Miami in just a few days.
This also seems strange to me: We’ve moved to remote work during Covid-19 and people are saying location doesn’t really matter. At the same time, people are arguing that, when it comes to moving to Miami, it does matter. Why is that?
Because it’s the best location, and I think that’s the easy answer. I tell people, “This is not a virtual background. That is my office.” For those who are listening who can’t see it, it’s a pretty sweet picture of palm trees and a bay and a blue sky. We believe, and we’ve always believed, that if all things were equal, Miami wins. That’s part of it.
I also hear what you’re saying about people sort of hating on the Bay Area, but I think there are some fundamental reasons why that’s happening. And I think to ignore those reasons is going to continue to perpetuate this exodus. They fall into two main categories. The first is taxation. I had somebody tell me the other day that some of these high tech cities and states, they’re literally working the first six months for the government and they don’t really start making money until six months and the first day, meaning they’re paying more than half of all the money they earn in income taxes. That money doesn’t even ever go in their pocket. It’s just going straight out the door.
I’ve also heard big founders say things like, “If I would have just gotten a call from the mayor or the governor saying, ‘Hey, look, we know things are tough right now. We know we’re closed. We know crime is up. We know homelessness is up. We know our taxes are going up, but we really need you. We want you to stay. We appreciate you. We think you’re doing a great job in building companies, building wealth. We think you’re part of the solution.’”
If they would’ve taken that approach, I think a lot of people would have stayed, because they would have felt a sense of civic responsibility, and they would’ve said, “You know what, maybe they’re right. And maybe things will get better.” And I just don’t think that happened. I think what happened was the opposite. I think you have people saying F Elon Musk. You had Mark Zuckerberg who gave $75 million to name a hospital, and he’s being criticized for that.
Politicians have seen the tech industry come into San Francisco and gentrify, push real estate costs up, and not give back much to the community. That’s where an anti-tech sentiment has come up in San Francisco.
I fundamentally disagree with that. Gentrification is not a San Francisco issue. It’s not a Los Angeles issue. It’s not a New York issue. It’s an American issue, right? Gentrification was happening in Miami way before tech out here. We grew, my first year as mayor, eight and a half percent, my second year, 10 and a half percent, and the year after that in Covid, six and a half percent, prior to the “how can I help” tweet. Gentrification is real, right? It’s real. It’s a real force in America, because there is a renaissance to urbanism.
To blame that on an industry, to blame that on a company is insane, and it’s ludicrous and counterproductive, frankly. And I think that’s where the big mistake lies, when government creates the kinds of policies that exacerbate gentrification. For example, you have cities that limit their ability to build. They limit their housing stock. What do you think is going to happen when you have no place to build? You have an infinite amount of capital chasing a finite good. Prices are going to go up. I mean, that’s Economics 101.
It’s not the fault of a company. It’s not the fault of a person. It’s not the fault of an industry. It’s the fault of government, frankly. And I think what’s happening is a lot of societal problems that are not being fixed by government and are not being made better by government are being blamed on private industry as a scapegoat. And that’s why people are fleeing those governments and those cities in droves and are coming to cities like Miami.
We reduced taxes to the second lowest rate since the 1960s. We reduced crime last year by 25%. The year before that, we had the lowest homicide rates since 1954. While people defunded their police, we increased funding to our police. We’ve had more police officers than we’ve ever had in our history. We have probably one of the lowest homeless rates for a major city in America. 962 homeless in my city. I know exactly the number I have and I have a census of them on a regular basis.
Frankly, until cities and states start figuring out that what they’re doing is hurting their citizens instead of blaming their citizens, this is going to continue, and it’s just going to benefit Miami. Listen, I’m fine with it. If they want to keep doing it, keep doing it.
I think it’s all too rare that we hear politicians talking about the fact that government contributes to the problem.
I agree with you. I think it’s a shared responsibility, right? I think we’re roughly the same age. I think the challenge of our generation is income inequality, right? Again, that’s not a San Francisco problem, that’s not a Los Angeles problem or New York problem or Miami problem. That’s an everywhere problem. And the question is, how do you solve it, right? And if we had the answer to solve it, guess what? Everybody would do it, right? And we would just scale it. It would be simple, right? Just like any other solution.
You don’t think bringing in tech folks and having low taxes is going to further the income inequality divide?
Let’s think of this as an engineer, right? Let’s think of this as a problem-solution thing. The problem is income inequality. The problem is poverty. What is the first thing you have to do to cure poverty? Tell all the people that create high-paying jobs, “You got to go?” No. You have to tell those, “You got to come.” For there to be upward mobility in my citizens, the first thing I have to do is create high-paying jobs. That is the first fundamental thing that I have to do.
The second thing I have to do is train the people in my city to occupy those jobs and make sure that they have the best educational framework, that they have broadband access, that they have the digital tools that everyone has, that they have educational curriculum and coding and robotics and whatever they’re going to need to be competitive in that world. But to say, “Oh, the cure of income inequality is to tell everyone to create high paying jobs that they have to leave,” I don’t even know what to say to that.
It’s not either/or. If you bring them in, you tax them appropriately.
The other side is we grow government, which has been demonstrated over the history of humanity to be incredibly inefficient at doing just about everything. And I think the reason why it’s so clear to me—and I’m sorry, I’m getting worked up because this is an awesome debate.
The reason why I get worked up is because my parents came from a country where they took away private property from everybody, where they took away the right of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, when they similarly executed political prisoners and they arrested people who spoke ill of the government. It became very evident to me that growing government, that tax policy, if you will, you don’t tax your way out of problems. You innovate your way out of problems. You create public-private partnerships. Affordable housing is a great example.
We just did $10 million of affordable housing. Well, we got a 20 to one leverage rate with the private sector. We put in a dollar and we got $19 from the private sector. We created 722 units of affordable housing in our community with $10 million. You can’t do that if you make it a government project. First of all, it’s going to look terrible. Second of all, you’re never going to maintain it the way that it should be maintained. And third of all, you’re not going to get the leverage rates.
So you’re going to spend $10 million and you’re going to get 70 units as opposed to spending $10 million and getting 700 units. It’s like simple mathematics.
What’s going on with you and Elon Musk?
Our relationship started on Twitter, as many of my relationships have started, tweeting at 4:00 in the morning about things of mutual interest. He’s a visionary. He’s someone who is sort of an engineer at heart, a problem solver. For him, the big issue is how do you solve major problems in the world? The one that we’re focusing on is urban transportation. It’s been a passion of mine for my entire public service career.
So he’s coming to dig tunnels?
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s what we’re talking about. I’m actually considering going to Las Vegas as well to see the tunnels that he’s digging over there. That’s a trip that we’re planning for mid-February. What’s amazing about his company is that it does it in a 100X cheaper fashion than what’s being done in other parts of the country. I think that’s something that you cannot ignore.
Certainly having the attention of the world’s richest person who is the most probably ingenious person, even more important than his wealth, it’s just not something you can ignore.
People give you shit about how much you’re on Twitter. But I know it’s going to make a meaningful impact and draw people to Miami.
In December, I tweeted over 800 times. I got 27 million impressions. All organic. And the “how can I help” tweet got like 2.4 million. The other one where they said vote with your feet got like 1.7. When I put up the Satoshi white paper, I got 3 million impressions. I think I have a clear runway to talk about these things. And frankly, I welcome the debate. I think it’s a healthy, important debate, because like I said, it is the challenge of our generation, but I do think that a lot of the cities are taking the wrong approach.
I think the most important thing is to have the debate. Now that we have cities that are challenging the Bay Area for tech supremacy, we’re going to start talking about these issues.
Frankly, I do a lot of interviews and it’s good when somebody has a robust debate and says, “Hey, you know what? Let’s look at the other side. Let’s challenge each other to think about this more profoundly.” I actually really appreciate it, because frankly, oftentimes, the interviews are all sort of honky-dory and everything is wonderful. No, things are not all wonderful. We have work to do. There’s a lot of challenges. And the decisions that we make today are going to define how we are tomorrow.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
Alex Kantrowitz: Welcome Mayor Rhodes-Conway. In 2019, there were 1.02 tech workers moving into Madison for everyone moving out. In 2020, it was 1.77. That’s the biggest jump of all U.S. cities, a 74% increase in inflow-outflow ratio, according to LinkedIn. How surprised are you?
Mayor Rhodes-Conway: Well, what can I say? Madison’s a great place to live. I think it’s very interesting. We have certainly seen the pattern here in Madison. Our average age of the population is going down, and that is in large part due to the folks that we’ve seen moving here for work, and particularly for tech-related work. So, we see it there. We see it in our housing market, frankly. We definitely feel the impact here in Madison. And mostly that’s positive, not 100%, but I think it is. It’s really interesting. Post-pandemic, as we come out of Covid, more and more people are realizing they can live wherever they want and work remotely. I think that we’re going to see even more of that migration here in Madison.
Even as far back as 2013, people were saying Madison’s tech industry was up and coming. How did this happen? Was it intentional, or did it just sort of happen incidentally?
I think it’s a mix. Certainly we see a lot of strength coming out of UW. Just for example, we have a great program on game design, which has meant that we have a really strong sector in game design here in Madison. And most people have no idea that that’s true. I happen to know because my brother is a game designer, so he’s sort of kept me looped in that, yeah, Madison’s a pretty hip place to be from that perspective. But I think it’s been a little bit under the radar. There are these strengths, there are some anchors. Obviously, Epic has been an anchor in the med-tech space and all of the spin-off that comes from that.
Epic does electronic medical records.
Yep, exactly. But I would also point out that American Family has really invested in innovation here and is doing a lot of interesting sort of ecosystem building work. We’ve got Google, we’ve got Zendesk, we’ve got Fetch, we’ve got Ionic, we’ve got PerBlue, Exact, also in the medical technology space. So, there’s a lot going on here in Madison.
One of the things that strikes me, looking into the industry from the outside, is that there is a lot of comradery and collaboration, and that there is a lot of desire to build that ecosystem and have that community, which I think then spurs additional startups, additional people wanting to be part of that, and to move here to be part of it.
People can now work from anywhere, but they still want to have some semblance of a tech community in the cities they move to. Madison seems well-positioned to welcome folks who don’t need to be in San Francisco or New York. Do you think that’s how the pandemic ends up benefiting Madison?
I think that we will see that movement. We have a really high quality of life. The caveat, always, here is that we’re an extremely good place for white people to live, and we’re not an extremely good place for African-Americans to live. So, we are really wrestling with that gap in opportunity. And that’s something that we as a city, that we as a community, take very seriously and are wrestling with. But we do have all of the markers of really high quality of life. We’ve got beautiful lakes, we’ve got an incredible park system, we’ve got a great small business community, lots of microbrew and local distilleries, local chocolate. Take your pick, whatever you want. So, there is a lot of really good quality of life here and I think that does attract people. I think that some of the downside is, while we are still a more affordable place to live than many larger coastal cities, our housing market is incredibly tight. And we as a city have really pushed to increase our supply of housing to meet the influx of people that we see.
The tech companies are an engine of economic growth, but people do get priced out of their neighborhoods. Are you conflicted in terms of the tech boom going on in your city, and how do you plan to manage that?
I see it as a challenge. It’s a plus, it’s an economic driver for us. And we want people to understand how great Madison is and to want to live here and want to do business here. But it is a challenge for us. The challenge is to make sure that we are not designing our city just for people who have moved here in the last year or five years or whatever, but rather designing our city to benefit everybody, including the folks who have been here for their whole lives.
It’s also a challenge to make sure that our housing market contains the appropriate levels of affordability for everybody, regardless of where they might be working. And it’s a challenge to make sure that we are investing in all of our neighborhoods. But I think that’s a challenge that we’re up for. It’s what I ran on. It is a high priority for us as a city to make sure that we stay focused on certainly welcoming more people in, but also making sure that we’re taking care of everybody.
I imagine your main industry is the University of Wisconsin-Madison. So how important can tech be in the mix?
I think you’d actually be surprised at how diverse our economy is. Obviously we’ve got state government, we’ve got county government, we’ve got city government, so we’re heavy in the government sector. We do have the flagship UW campus here. But we also have a real strength in health care. We have very strong health systems and that’s a big piece in our economy. Similarly, we have a lot of med tech companies, it’s a growing piece of our economy here. We’re a little more diverse than people might think when they just think of us as a university town.
It sounds like software and technology are going to be an important part of your mix.
I don’t know how things happen in Silicon Valley, but I think there’s a bit of a skewed view of the world there. What’s important for cities is to have diverse economies. You can’t depend on one industry alone. So, it’s important for Madison to have diversity and to be strong in multiple sectors. And that’s what I’m interested in. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in doing what we can to grow and diversify the sectors that we’ve got and to localize their supply chains so that we’re keeping more of our economic activity here in Madison. And I think that there’s a lot of opportunity to do that, but for me, the key really is the diversity. So with tech in particular being a growing sector for us, that’s great because it helps us diversify, but I never want to be in a position where that’s the only thing we’ve got going.
Outside of having another industry that people can go to, what are some concrete benefits of having tech in your city?
You’re bringing people into town and they’re spending money. That’s great. That’s part of what makes the economy go. But one of the things that I think is really interesting is the overlap. Madison has been strong in health care for decades. And now, we’re increasingly strong in medical technology, which probably wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t strong in health care to begin with. But it’s an opportunity for a strength in technology related to one of our existing economic powerhouses. So, that’s interesting to me.
So, there can be a spillover effect to other industries that do rely on tech. I’m curious what you think the future of tech is in U.S. cities. Is it concentrated? Is it more dispersed?
Well, how I would’ve answered that 12 months ago, I think, is perhaps different than how I would answer it now. I think that everything is going to be more dispersed. I think that one of the things that the pandemic has taught us is that there is a lot of room for people to work remotely. And I think the question is, how remotely? Are a lot of people going to have jobs where they live in one state and their job is multiple states away from them? I don’t know about that. But are people going to have jobs where they live in a nice mid-size Midwestern city and then they are not going into the office every day? That, I think, is probably going to happen. I think that a lot more is possible now because we’ve discovered telework as an option.
Okay, now I’m going to ask you some questions I got from Twitter. First, “Fish fry or fish boil?”
I’m a vegetarian.
So, no fish?
I have no idea what this means. “New Glarus or Sprecher?”
Oh, I’m sorry, but New Glarus, for sure.
Are those beer gardens?
“The hell is up with Bubbler?” What’s Bubbler?
Our library has this fantastic sort of innovation maker-space called the Bubbler, and I assume that’s what they’re referring to. It’s really awesome. It brings together artists and makers and innovators and gives people a chance to really indulge their creativity and learn something at the same time. Not a lot going on since Covid, but really exciting stuff in the past, and hopefully again in the future.
“Is the Silver Dollar really closed?”
Yes, but… Yes. Sorry.
It’s a bar.
Oh. I’m sorry, folks. “What can be done to get cannabis legalized statewide?”
Well, as a matter of fact, the governor just proposed that.
Are you going to support it?
For the record, I’m fully supportive.
Mayor Steve Adler
Kantrowitz: Do you think that, once the pandemic is over, techies who are camped out in other cities will return to the typical power centers in San Francisco and New York?
Mayor Adler: For some people that’s going to be right, but for others it won’t be, and I think part of it is exposure. You don’t know what you’re not doing or seeing or feeling or experiencing until you do. Austin, for example, is that kind of place. It’s qualitatively different than a lot of other places, in so many different ways. There are people that get a taste for something different and then like what that feels like. That’s going to have continued attraction, but I also still believe that the attraction for urban centers is going to be something that remains.There’s an energy and something that is missing socially when you’re not around a lot of people.
How is Austin different from other cities?
I think the most significant way that Austin is different is that it’s a real accepting city. It’s a place where it’s okay for people to be different. The catchphrase in the city is “Keep Austin Weird.” But what does that mean? To me, what that means is that you can try things and be outside of the box. I think that there’s a higher tolerance for taking risks in Austin than any other city that I’ve ever been in. When you do something and you fail it doesn’t get punished in Austin the same way it does in most other places. And that encourages people to try things which I think leads to greater innovation, which is why I think there’s more startups per capita in the city than just about any other place that I’m aware of.
The LinkedIn data I reviewed showed that tech worker migration to Austin has slowed down a bit. We see the big headlines with Oracle, but what’s happening on the ground?
My sense is that there is a migration and a movement and an energy in the city, because there’s just growing opportunities here. When I talk to two leaders in other cities, my sense is that Austin is doing well. It’s a cultural issue, and I think that this is an easy city to be in. For many people in other cities, this is an inexpensive place to be, unless of course you’ve grown up here. So, if there is a slowing down of migration into this city, it’s not something that I’ve seen.
It seems like every mayor wants their city to be a tech hub. Is tech going to be the main driver for cities in the U.S in terms of economic growth?
I don’t think Austin, right now, is driving to be a tech city because tech cities are the future of cities or that’s the way to go. I don’t think that the desire for tech drives, I think there’s cultural value in this city that relates to music as much as it does to tech. And that’s what this city is and who we are in this city. And I think that’s what drives the city. And if it translates into attracting tech and being a good place for tech to be, which I think it is and it does, then that happens. But it’s almost incidental to the culture.
There’s the perception that Austin is out there recruiting tech companies to come. Do you have an economic development group that’s trying to get tech companies to move from San Francisco? Or are you only taking inbound leads?
Most of it is inbound leads. It was different 25, 30 years ago, when you had the first consortium’s leading, trying to pick up a lot of the early tech manufacturing that existed overseas. And again, at that point, it was people trying to tie the natural abilities and the natural culture that existed in the city to an industry where it seemed like there was a match.
And fortuitous for this city, the match happened to be in industries that were focused on idea generation and creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship, and that intersection with art and creativity, it just turned out to be a good play or a good bet. I mean, that’s who we are. That is not to say that we also don’t recruit in the city because it’s obviously a strength that exists. But when you had cities all over the country competing for Amazon headquarters, Austin was involved in that in a very different way than most other cities. We have challenges here and we’re looking for people that want to be neighbors and get involved in both what’s working and what’s not working.
But when you look at your mix of industries and your city, how important is tech from an economic standpoint?
Tech is real important. And tech is obviously really broad. We’re really lucky in this city to have a lot of jobs that pay a lot. The real need in my city right now is for middle-skill jobs. Jobs that people can do that don’t require a four-year degree. So a two-year degree or a certification. To a rapidly growing degree a lot of those jobs are tech jobs.
And so having a company that would come in like Tesla is important for our city, it’s clean manufacturing and it drives that middle-skill job, but in an area that we lean into. So tech is obviously important and is driving a lot of things that are wonderful in our city, but our challenges won’t be cured by having eight more really big tech companies coming in with really well-paying jobs.
Folks moving in from the tech industry might be a little bit more buttoned up, less experimental, more interested in money. Is that in conflict with “Keeping Austin weird?”
I got here in ’78 and everybody who got here with me in ’78 was absolutely sure that the people who got here in ’79 are the ones who started screwing things up for the city. But the people who got here two or three years ago are surely the ones who got here last year and the ones that started screwing it up.
My measure on that is Austin, when I got here, was attractive to me and a compelling place because art was being created everywhere. And I look at some other cities that have gone through that kind of progress. And there are cities that don’t create art as much as they consume art. And I think that there’s a real turn when that happens to a city.
Austin is still a city that creates art everywhere. And the key for us in terms of trying to drive policy is how do we maintain that? So yes, we have an economy that’s up right now and it’s getting more and more expensive to live here. I’m not sure that the search for the dollars is the motivating thing as much as affordability impacts that creative mix that we can’t afford to lose. So we can’t afford to lose the fabric of people that exist in the city so that we continue to be a city that creates art.
How do you do it?
It’s hard, but it takes a community that is really devoted to it and is willing to sacrifice for it. We passed the largest affordable housing bond that the cities ever passed. Fourfold larger than anything that we’ve ever done before. In the middle of the pandemic, the community agreed to do what it took to establish a mass public transit system that was centered on equity. And a big component of the transit program was not for stock or capital infrastructure, it was for the anti-displacement strategies associated with that. So I think it’s just being really focused that the conversations about equity in this city go beyond just wanting to be able to talk about equity, but people realize that, if we’re not successful in the equity issue, it is existential for us.
There’s a lot of work, which is why we’re not only in the middle of the policing reimagination conversation that’s going on in some other cities. But I really think we’re actually progressing through it in ways that other cities are having difficulty doing in part again, because we realized that it’s existential to who we are. If we don’t nail this, if we don’t do this right, then the city will change. And people want us to preserve the magic of this place.
I wonder if there’s a compromise between this tech surge and the challenge of affordable housing and maintaining the character of certain neighborhoods.
One could destroy the other. But at the same time, the tech movement is bringing a real significant energy and certainly a level of resources that wouldn’t exist here otherwise. And you can either take that energy and those resources and use them to meet those challenges, or you can use those resources to exacerbate the challenges. And that’s really the place that city is in right now. And in five or 10 years, we’ll know whether or not we were able to steer those things in the direction they needed to be.
But one of the things that I really like about this city is that people self-select to be here. There are other wonderful cities. Miami is a wonderful city, but I also think that the people that really like Miami just really wouldn’t like it here. And vice versa. And I think part of that nature is the privacy of recognizing that we each have to invest in and help protect the magic that attracted us here. And I think if we can all stay true to that, then we can actually make this work.
And I think that’s the reason why, because it’s seen not as an end in and of itself, but as providing the tools to help us continue what we have. I can remember arriving as a law student up on the drag near the law school, everybody upset about this new bar that had gone into a favorite location.
The old bar had left, and everybody was really pissed at this new bar that was coming in and the change that it represented and the fact that Austin was dying. And now here, 45 years later, that bar is endangered. And the city can’t even imagine what it would be like if we can’t preserve and keep that bar. And it’s true. We need to try to keep it, but I’m okay with the city evolving and changing and growing, so long as it continues to preserve what it is that’s special.
And you see a positive post-pandemic future as far as tech work in the city?
I think so. It’s been a really positive influence in so many ways thus far. And I think that the tech leadership is beginning to get more and more involved civically and more and more invested in the community. And I think that’s a really good sign.
Do you have to tiptoe around the way that you speak about the tech industry’s impact?
I don’t feel a need to tiptoe around it because this is how I came into the office and how I’ve talked about it has been consistent since I got here. But you’re right, there is that element of the city that feels that, in order to be able to preserve what it is, things can’t change. And to that group, the new ways or different ways will be more threatening because it presents a kind of an unknown.
So that politics exists in this city as it does in other cities. But not to the degree that I think that it silences the voice of progress. You know, my message has always been looking forward and moving forward. And that I think is a winning strategy for the city. But then I think that forward movement and forward looking has been what the city has had for the five decades I’ve been here.
Finally, as we wrap up, Oracle is going to be headquartered in your city. Larry Ellison is moving to Lanai. Are you upset that he’s going to Hawaii and not coming to live with you guys?
Hey, Lanai is a nice place. It’s hard to criticize anybody for heading to Lanai. I am hoping that he visits here a lot, because with the company here, I think that they need to be invested in not only what’s good, but also in our challenges too. And I trust that they will be.