'We Got Memed Into Moving': Inside Tech Boom Miami

We Got Memed Into Moving Inside Tech Boom Miami

Early in the the first pandemic summer, around the time California started asking people to wear masks indoors, Jack Abraham booked a week - long vacation to Miami. Four days into the trip, he tested positive for Covid-19. He canceled his flight back to San Francisco and, sickly ill, stayed out of his sniffles in Airbnb. About the time he felt better, Abraham discovered, to his surprise, that he was in no hurry to recover. The city was full of energy, full of street art and people were captivating cut up in Cuban cafes. “I thought, 'Wow, this is definitely an amazing place,' 'he told me. "And I found that I was very fertile."

Abraham had moved to San Francisco in 2008, a child-facing college group with a big start-up idea. He sold that company for $ 75 million a few years later, then became one of Silicon Valley's famous angel investors, hitting gold with an early bet on Pinterest and Postmates. Recently, however, he had recalled the Bay Area. San Franciscans had selected a slate of progressive politicians who left, as he saw it, the place full of homeless camps and heroin needles, and then blamed tech companies. The cost of living had become so high, he said, that entrepreneurs needed support from investors just to pay the rent. Even the geography of the region, which Abraham had always admired, was increasingly hostile: In 2017, his house in Sonoma burned down in a wildfire.

Miami felt like a fresh start. Abraham closed a house there in August and began inviting informants in the Bay Area to visit him. “I told them basically, 'Look, here's what I found,'" he said - good weather, good food, cars parked with their windows still intact. As soon as these companions spent a nice long weekend in Miami, "more than half" of them chose to stay, he told me.

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Miami felt like “the first week of a new college year,” Jack Abraham said.

Photo by Flaminia Fanale; Photo by Alvaro Dominguez; Getty Images

In recent years, as technologists moved away from Silicon Valley, they may have moved to Silicon Beach (Los Angeles), Silicon Hills (Austin), Silicon Slopes (Salt Lake City), even Silicon Alley (New York). All of these places made sense as technical hubs; Miami was not, at least not in the obvious ways. The area has no advanced engineering schools and few well - known technical companies - in other words, there is little physical infrastructure and few capable staff. But at this particular time, physical infrastructure was out of bounds and workers were becoming isolated. Suddenly, Miami was a competitor.

In the fall, a friend invited Abraham to join Miami Tech Life, a messaging group on the Telegram encrypted chat app. All sorts of people gathered there - billionaires, start-up CEOs, technical workers on WFH's long leash, established residents who had built companies in the city, native Floridians who had recently moved back, and Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami crypto - evangelist. One early investor told me that it reminded me of the early years of South by Southwest: Every few messages, someone would say, “I didn't understand you they were here. ”

Soon came the likes of David Blumberg and David Sacks, high-profile VCs who made their fortunes out of early hype. Each one paid millions for seaside homes in Miami Beach. Lucy Guo, a Thiel Fellow investor as a wunderkind investor, moved to Miami after seeing others do the same. (She had been negotiating between Austin and Miami, but at the time Barry only had Bootcamp at Miami.) Keith Rabois, a partner of the Founders Fund investment firm, moved to Miami in December 2020 and to he quickly began to evangelize the city. "I felt a little like Noah's ark," he told me. "So I was, I need two angel investors, two VCs, two engineers, two founders."

In software, “network effects” describes how a product will become more valuable as its customer base grows. The more people sign up to be Airbnb guests, the better the homes choose; the more cryptocurrency people own, the more they will each buy. For fifty years, network influences worked in favor of the Bay Area: Talented people moved there because other talented people had moved there, starting with the hairy thinkers who built the largest companies in the Bay Area. the world. Now it seemed that another city was on the rise.

What about Miami feeling so different? The freedom? The novel? How easily had a rebound relationship after things with San Francisco gotten so bad? Rabois loved to brag that he could leave his Prada bag in his car without anyone breaking in. There was no income tax on people and beside any on companies. There was no threat in shaking up wealth. "In San Francisco, no one is driving a Lamborghini because it's like, 'Oh, they'm out of communication,'" said Delian Asparouhov, principal of the Founders' Fund, which moved to Miami in April 2021 and driving mostly Vespa. “Here's how it is, 'I'm buying half an island and building a house on it. ”

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