September 17, 2016

Rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos

Vanityfair's Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos profile for cheap blood testing.

March 16, 2016

The so-called Google buses

The so-called Google buses -- private commuter buses that whisk tech workers from the city to the corporate campuses to the south -- will be used to transport fans to Santa Clara on game day, which tourists may see as a treat. Although this does not seem to have caused an uproar among San Franciscans, it is perhaps symbolically significant, given that the buses have been a lightning rod for anger over the Bay Area's growing wealth disparity.

September 19, 2015

SV VC were always boutiques

Goldman Sachs set up its first office in San Francisco in 1968. In the 1990s, Wall Street banks sought out "the Four Horsemen," a contingent of local boutique investment banks that had cornered the market on virtually all the tech start-ups. JPMorgan bought Hambrecht & Quist (Mr. Perkins has long said the only banker he ever liked was Bill Hambrecht of Hambrecht & Quist); Deutsche Bank bought Alex. Brown & Sons; the predecessor to Bank of America bought Robertson Stephens; and Montgomery Securities was bought by NationsBank (which later merged with Bank of America).

September 20, 2014

Mayor of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley needs a de facto "mayor", the person who represents its broad interests, and not those of a particular company, industry or advocacy groups. The Valley began with such individuals--Stanford's Fred Terman, Dave Packard and then Intel founder Robert Noyce. But that ended with Noyce's premature death in 1990. Now, poised to reinvent itself one more time and lead the global economy again, Silicon Valley needs another leader to address the great changes to come.

May 8, 2014

SFO much more tech-centric than NYC

San Francisco is much more of a company town. Go into any bar in San Francisco and you will hear people talking about their start-up, or a battle they recently had with a line of code. Stop by a coffee shop in some neighborhoods here and you will be surrounded by venture capitalists being pitched a new idea for a new app. All of these people rarely, if ever, interact with people outside the tech world.

Unfair? Sure, but we are talking about glossy magazine stereotypes here.

In New York, if you meet someone who works in tech you feel like you've met a long-lost relative. Bars, coffee shops and restaurants are a mishmash of people from vastly different industries.

The lack of diversity between social groups in San Francisco isn't going to change anytime soon, as the number of tech employees in the Bay Area is only going to continue to rise. Ted Egan, chief economist for San Francisco's Controller's Office, recently said that in the early-90s, tech workers made up less than 1 percent of city workers in San Francisco. In 2000, tech employees had risen to 3 percent of the workforce. By 2013, that number had passed 6 percent.

February 1, 2014

New rules for education and status identification

Like many professions today, software development is developing new rules for education and status identification. At one point, a degree from MIT or Stanford was the key ticket to a major Silicon Valley company, and from there, a start-up or a management role.

The new culture around hackathons and open source projects is going to upend this forced march. Students increasingly are engaging with startups earlier in their careers, and they are building products rather than writing code samples. With a continued focus on education, there is an opportunity here to solve the engineer crunch, and perhaps even expand the range of people who are involved in engineering the next great startups.

November 26, 2013

Technology industry shamed for one technologist's field report

A start-up founder named Peter Shih, listed 10 things he hated about San Francisco. Homeless people, for example. And the "constantly PMSing" weather. And "girls who are obviously 4s and behave like they're 9s."

January 6, 2013

Coffee men

Chris Baca trains a new employee how to steam milk properly at Verve in Santa Cruz; Tristan Walach, also known as Ant, teaches people how to make coffee in San Francisco at Sightglass.

The essence of good espresso, of good coffee in general, revolves around three numbers: the amount of quality dry coffee used, the amount of time water flows through it and the amount of coffee that comes out the other end. When the ratio is right, the process extracts the best flavor. If it is wrong, the good flavor never surfaces or is watered down. A mistake in seconds or grams, I am coming to learn, is the difference between something wonderful and awful.

¶ Mr. Baca explains that you have to experiment to find just the right balance of these three elements for each coffee machine and coffee grind, and then replicate them. He has tested the machinery at Sightglass and determined that we want to use 17 grams of high-end coffee and run water for 25 seconds to yield about 30 grams of coffee.

"How hard can coffee be? It's an attitude we're constantly encountering," noted Ellie Matuszak, director of professional development for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a trade group with thousands of company members and 1,200 people in its growing Barista Guild.

Continue reading "Coffee men" »

November 29, 2012

tumblr is NY

East vs west: tumblr's Karp on why New York is no Silicon Valley.

"The west is about making things scale but not making people's lives better. It is about indexing, but not about creating."

May 29, 2012

The primacy of Interaction Design

The primacy of Interaction Design

The new digital landscape in which entrepreneurs operate is no longer dominated by sales-driven cultures, or by the need to deploy and maintain infrastructure. Instead, amazing products, products that are often bought rather than sold, dominate this new landscape.

Designers of these products are increasingly in direct touch with their users. We have spoken of this product-driven versus sales-driven change, and it impacts every sector we invest in. Design moves to the center. We believe designers are choosing urban life in the city over suburban life elsewhere.

-- Benchmark

Continue reading "The primacy of Interaction Design" »

March 15, 2011

Startups better suited to San Francisco Bay than New York City

And that's precisely what's wrong with New York: it's filled with hyper-stressed, aggressive, social climbers who are actually kind of effete and helpless at the end of the day, and probably need to outsource their software development, because they're not, like, technical and all that. Except there's one problem....there aren't that many hackers in New York, and the few there are (I know because I used to be one of them) won't leave their $300,000 jobs on Wall Street to work on your hopelessly risky idea.

-- Antonio

Counterpoint: UK expat Paul Carr. bring the meh

October 20, 2009

Bay Area by NYT

NYT launches microsite (blog) for Bay Areans.

Usefully, it tracks all SFO related publish items in one place.

May 23, 2009

Late night safety bus

If public transport and public health could merge, there would be a safe way to get home at night.

Atrios would approve, if public safety is a public good.

Phoenix, AZ 2009 May 21:

The Valley's light rail will soon extend its hours on the weekends.

Currently, the light rail makes its last run at 11 p.m.

However, starting July 1, the trains will leave from both ends of the line at 2 a.m., which means if your stop is somewhere in the middle, the final train will sometimes come past 2 a.m.

On Wednesday, the METRO Board of Directors approved the new hours.

The change was made after getting feedback from passengers and businesses along the light rail route.

Melissa Harrigan, a bartender at Zuma Grill in Tempe, said she thinks the change will be good for business because people will be able to stay longer.

She also said that she feels it will keep the roads safer because a bigger group of people won't be drinking and driving.

According to a METRO news release, the estimated fiscal and maintenance impact for extended weekend service is $254,500 annually to the METRO operating budget.

After six months, the Board will review ridership statistics and costs associated with the service extension to see if the change is cost effective.

Published in transit, urbanism, UK, SFO, ny.

May 22, 2009

Town for car-free life: Vauban

While there have been efforts in the past two decades to make cities denser, and better for walking, planners are now taking the concept to the suburbs and focusing specifically on environmental benefits like reducing emissions. Vauban, home to 5,500 residents within a rectangular square mile, may be the most advanced experiment in low-car suburban life. But its basic precepts are being adopted around the world in attempts to make suburbs more compact and more accessible to public transportation, with less space for parking. In this new approach, stores are placed a walk away, on a main street, rather than in malls along some distant highway.

"All of our development since World War II has been centered on the car, and that will have to change," said David Goldberg, an official of Transportation for America, a fast-growing coalition of hundreds of groups in the United States -- including environmental groups, mayors' offices and the American Association of Retired People -- who are promoting new communities that are less dependent on cars. Mr. Goldberg added: "How much you drive is as important as whether you have a hybrid."

Levittown and Scarsdale, New York suburbs with spread-out homes and private garages, were the dream towns of the 1950s and still exert a strong appeal. But some new suburbs may well look more Vauban-like, not only in developed countries but also in the developing world, where emissions from an increasing number of private cars owned by the burgeoning middle class are choking cities.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is promoting "car reduced" communities, and legislators are starting to act, if cautiously. Many experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year, Mr. Goldberg said. In previous bills, 80 percent of appropriations have by law gone to highways and only 20 percent to other transport.

In California, the Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a Vauban-like community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and to the California State University's campus in Hayward.

Continue reading "Town for car-free life: Vauban" »

April 7, 2009

Middle class more than 100k in Silicon Valley

Over $100,000 income is the biggest group. Where is the middle class.

"This is a statement that the system is broken, and that inaction will lead to ruin," said Russell Hancock, chief executive and president of Joint Venture. "It's time to start over."

The report also showed that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest residents continued to grow. The percentage of households earning more than $100,000 a year rose to 42 percent in 2008, from 35 percent in 2002, while the number of households earning $35,000 or less rose to 20 percent, from 19 percent in the same period.

During that period, the number of immigrants to Silicon Valley grew 9 percent.

Continue reading "Middle class more than 100k in Silicon Valley" »

December 31, 2008

A Better Oakland stands up to Jean Quan

Commenters propose a succession from Oakland to form the city of "Piedmontclairidge" consisting of Piedmont, Montclair, and Rockridge. We suggest a Liz Krueger style campaign.

Staff from the City Attorney's office then reiterated that the Committee was not being asked to adopt ordinances the homeless advocates were objecting to as unconstitutional, but rather to allow an option of a reduced charge for existing ordinances, and emphasized the broad community support for the program. Jean Quan asked a bunch of clarifying questions, in response to which we learned, again, that adopting the item in question would not introduce a new ordinance, nor would it necessarily change the level of citation for violating the ordinance, but would simply give the prosecutors discretion to charge these crimes either as a misdemeanor (which they are currently) or now as an infraction, as they deem appropriate.

Up to this point, the discussion was fine. Sure, we heard the same thing over and over again, and sometimes after a long day, that can get pretty tiring. But in general, I don't mind. I much prefer that the Council be extremely clear on what they're voting on than they just push things through in a hurry.

Then, the whole thing just collapsed. Jean Quan, totally randomly, started talking about the County's alcohol detention center. She's bothered that the Oakland police don't take more people there, and doesn't see how approving this would do anything to get more Oakland residents into the center. You know, I don't see how the Committee approving the ordinance is going to do anything to make the sidewalks downtown less treacherous to my heels, but I didn't feel the need to march down to City Hall and protest it because of that.

She received a very polite response explaining that first, someone passed out in the street from alcohol needs to go to a hospital, not a detention center, and that two, the center is for people who want to go there willingly for treatment, and it's not something you can force people to do.

Jean Quan then asked if the proposal had been presented to Project Reconnect, and got yet another response from the attorney's office explaining that the proposal was not about homelessness at all. Quan responded that in order for the misdemeanor prosecutions to be successful, we need cooperation of homeless advocacy organizations to create restorative justice programs for them. She suggested delaying the item for a month, and said they should, in the meantime, meet with a coalition of homeless advocates to give their input about how to craft a restorative justice program for homeless people who can't pay their tickets.

December 7, 2008

Build it ready or not

we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We'll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we'll set a simple rule - use it or lose it. If a state doesn't act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they'll lose the money.

-- Obama's Key Parts of the Jobs Plan, 2008 December 6

Would spending on planning, consultants, policy, publicity, media relations, public relations folks create more middle class jobs, before the actual construction began ?

Interestingly, there's nary any talk of building prisons to releive overcrowding.

On airport expansion, Coruscation presents the sorry case of SFO's parallel runway for frequent flyiers.

SFO shelved the runway project in June after $75 million worth of
studies. Airport Director John Martin cited a lack of political will
in pushing the controversial project and the shakiness of the
airport's finances.

64% of County residents support runway expansion, poll reports
Tuesday, December 16, 2003, in the San Mateo County Times

San Francisco International Airport's $75 million effort to expand
its runways focused too heavily on marketing the idea, spent too
lavishly on consultants and failed to give equal weight to
alternatives to paving San Francisco Bay, according to a highly
critical audit of the project released Wednesday.

While the airport was evaluating the controversial -- and now dead --
plan to build new runways in the bay, consultants were billing for
$4,000 flights to the East Coast, $500 hotel rooms and $16,000
computer work stations, according to a sampling of expenses examined
by Harvey Rose, budget analyst for the San Francisco supervisors.

The airport spent money on services that had little to do with
studying the environmental impacts of expanding the airfield, and
items such as public relations and lobbying were sometimes hidden in
contracts for engineering or environmental work, according to the

Audit criticizes S.F. Airport on runway plan
Lavish spending on consultants cited in report to supervisors

Thursday, May 22, 2003, in the San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he was simply taking away the airport's blank check. In
the past few years, SFO spent about $70 million on the proposed
expansion, including more than $1 million on politically connected

"If you want to study the runways, study them with science, not with
politics," Peskin said.

The consultants have included Attorney Karen Skelton, a former deputy
in the Clinton-Gore administration; Brown's campaign strategist Barry
Wyatt; and Jon Rubin, Brown's appointee to the Metropolitan
Transportation Commission. SFO hired Rubin's firm, Bay Relations.

Supervisors gut SFO runway expansion study
$5 million yanked, put into reserve

Tuesday, June 25, 2002, in the San Francisco Chronicle

Specifically, the airport director suspended environmental studies
looking into the viability of a proposal to extend the airport's
runways into San Francisco Bay -- a review that already has taken
four years, cost $75 million and is 80% complete.
Executives also have had to contend with a recent audit of the
airport's books that alleged airport officials mismanaged $75
million spent to study the runway extension plan.

The finding prompted San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who
requested the report last year, to call airfield development efforts
a boondoggle. The city's Board of Supervisors oversees the airport
and the city treasury receives a portion of revenues each year.

"This [expansion] project had a lot more to do with studying a
political notion than what the impacts of the project would be,"
Peskin said. "The intellectually dishonest way they went about
running the entire effort was going to doom the project to great
legal and political vulnerabilities."

The audit, drafted by city budget analyst Harvey M. Rose, raised
questions about runaway spending by consultants and found that the
Airfield Development Bureau, formed to direct the runway extension
project, kept shoddy records and didn't follow city regulations.

Rose, who relied in part on a random sample of invoices, found that
consultants billed the bureau for unusually high airfare, lodging,
equipment and telephone costs. These included round-trip airfares to
Washington for $4,252, a $799 dinner at the Bacchanal restaurant in
South San Francisco and a $4,686 phone bill for an airport
contractor for one month. Consultants also billed the bureau an
average of $16,646 each for three Dell computer workstations with no
explanation for the high cost, Rose said.

Future Cloudy for San Francisco Airport
Declining passenger traffic and a setback in a project to extend its
runways leave executives with more questions than answers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003, in the Los Angeles Times

Continue reading "Build it ready or not" »

September 18, 2007

SomaFM grooves

SOMA FM streams beloved CliqHop and delightful Groove Salad.

April 29, 2007

ClienteleI 1: Coachella

Security is silky here, when it’s noticeable at all.
There’s not much to secure. This is an indie-rock
festival — a gathering of property-owners,
memoir-writers, biochem majors, workshop-takers, etc.

-- Coachella 2007.

October 16, 2006

kizmeet, a slick 'missed connections'

kizmeet: example:

missed connections at NY Equinox Fitness.

September 25, 2006

Ani Phyo

Raw like sushi: Ani Phyo.

June 21, 2006

sf metblogs

sf.metblogs, the thinking man's sFist.

Example: film fest.

June 10, 2006

Silicon Valley is grown, not built. By Paul Graham

Shorter Silicon Valley.
Need nerds (smart creative fanoys, not computer operators)
and rich people (investors and mentors within an hour's drive),
nice place to live (San Fanciscso, Boston, Seattle, Buffalo, Pittsburgh)
Need free thinking ofbeat (Portland, Boulder, New York,
Los Angeles, Las Vegas
) not stodgy (Saint Louis, Detroit) bureaucrats.

Silicon Valley is grown, not built (comments).

-- Paul Graham

Continue reading "Silicon Valley is grown, not built. By Paul Graham" »

May 31, 2006

Valley Wag

ValleyWag trots around Silicon Valley: example.

April 5, 2006

Sand Hill Slave

Sand Hill Slave is not a blackberry fan.
The interview.

March 27, 2006

Undocumented physician

Undocumented physician, Stephen Brian Turner, doctors immigrants in California.

March 3, 2006

CA Quake mapped

Earthquakes: CA quake map.

December 25, 2005

Tax for subway to the sea

Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl is making waves
with his proposal to raise Los Angeles County’s sales tax
in order to fund a subway to the County’s beach.

Of course, if you look at the ballot measures from the
last two times L.A. approved a sales tax to fund general
transit projects, you would see that we already have a
world-class transit system with subways from Sylmar
to Seal Beach, paralleling the 405, and down the length
of Wilshire Boulevard.

Of course 2/3 of the projects promised in 1980 and 1990
have never been built, yet we continue to pay the taxes!

Continue reading "Tax for subway to the sea" »

October 30, 2005

Who needs Prop 79 for drugs in California ?

Proposition 79 would use the purchasing power of the State of
California to negotiate the best price for up to ten million
Californians, who now pay more than anybody else in the world
for prescription drugs.

* Prop. 78 is completely voluntary for drug companies: they
are free to choose whether or not to offer discounts.

* Prop. 79 has an enforcement mechanism. If a drug company
refuses to provide discounts, the state can shift business away
from that company and buy more from other drug companies that
offer discounts.

Above is from the so-called Better California campaign site for
Prop 79 *.

Klingian Question of the Day:
What is preventing buyers from comparison shopping
between drug companies, either now or under Prop 78 ?

October 13, 2005

Toll road to Silicon Valley ?

As part of a long-term plan to improve traffic flow on I-680, the
Alameda County Congestion Management Agency has concluded that it is
feasible to convert of a section of the southbound carpool lane to a
Smart Carpool Lane or High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane.

Carpools would continue to use the lane for free while solo drivers
could use the lane for a fee that would vary depending on the level
of congestion in the Smart Lane. The fee is intended to make excess
capacity available to paying motorists while guaranteeing a
reasonable travel time for all users of the lane.

HOT 680.

September 14, 2005

Altamont Press' RailRoad News

Altamont Press' RailRoad News and foamers' discussion.
History and trainspotting, mainline freight and commuter trains.

August 31, 2005

Party Car on CalTrain

Party Car on CalTrain.

Every Friday, on northbound Train 275 (arrives in SF @ 6:39pm)
in the Bike Car at the front of the train (the SF end).

People bring beer, snacks, music, and a certain savoir-faire....

A nice way to end the last summer month, commuting.

August 30, 2005

Enoch Choi

Enoch Choi thoughts and many many links.
Nicely designed personal log.
And more links.

August 6, 2005

Dan Gillmor

Formerly one of the MSM popular press's better technology writers,
bayosphere's Dan Gillmor didn't stay solo for long.

July 4, 2005


Orson Scott Card: Science Fiction writer or
wholly derivative polemicist
? At Lance Mannion.

June 24, 2005

Riander, reDUX

Riander, travails of a user experience and user-centred desisgn
consultant. Who better to run DUX, aka Design for User Experience ?

May 24, 2005

Union City intermodal station

Union City, CA intermodal station will connect BART, Dumbarton Rail,
Capitol Corridor, and ACE Rail.

May 14, 2005

A bear in the city

A bear in the city, artful San Francisco-based culture snippets.

April 10, 2005

Craig's List and Google Maps

Craig's List and Google Maps merge, and the result is good.

See for rent and for sale listings plotted on a map,
pins colourized to show availability of pictures,
drill down the matches to a feature set or price band.

April 6, 2005

Housing Bubble Bust

Housing Bubble Bust is San Francisco-centric and frequently updates
its headlines.
Also a good list of links (at page bottom).