Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If I Was a Comedienne (Part 17)

The Tender Knob

So I'm relatively new to San Francisco, and everybody is excited all the time... "Ahhh! What a great city to live in! It must be great!" and it's pretty good. I have to say that the city has treated me pretty well so far.

When I first moved here, my "relocation coach" took me around to see a bunch of different apartments and... as someone who has grown up for a large part in the Bay Area, I was really surprised at how much renaming has happened in the city. So we went to all the normal places, like the mission and the marina and we looked at Noe Valley and all those good places. But then we finally got to my apartment that I live in now, which is on Van Ness. But it's in this weird place on Van Ness-- it's not quite the Hayes Valley, it's not quite Civic Center, not quite in the Tenderloin....and my realtor has the balls to tell me that I live in "The TenderNob". I mean, I don't know much about the city I suppose-- it's been awhile since I last lived here, but I'm 125% sure that she just made that up. It's like a bunch of realtors were sitting around a table one day and asked themselves, "How can we make the Tenderloin a less scary place to live? I know... let's add "Nob" on the end of it".

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with living in the Tenderloin, I mean, my sister lived here when she first moved out too. But to be honest, The TenderNob sounds strangely sexual. I mean, it's called The. Tender. Nob. Run that through your brain for a second. Don't overthink it, but just take a second to enjoy it. Let it roll off your tongue. Not literally. But you know.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

San Francisco Neverland

I read a great article today on the inter webs about how San Francisco is slowly shifting away from being the Neverland that people always think about when they think about Silicon Valley. It was written from the perspective of an artist hear in the city, but I was thinking the whole time-- Hey this isn't only for artists, bro. The struggle is real and it's hitting everyone. I might be that tech parasite that everyone's talking about, but that doesn't mean our lives are easy.

Granted, I've only been here for a little bit. A hot second in the grand scheme of life, but in San Francisco time, I'm practically a lifer. There are two very divided camps about San Francisco as a city, and tenure is only one of the hotly debated topics that are shunted around like sad beach balls during pretty much every party I go to. There's (generally) two camps. Pro-SF and "People Waiting to Move Away" aka "Disgusted Former SF Folks". Digusted Formers also sometimes take a mutation to the "Here Only for a Nobler Cause" folks. Those guys are here only because they want to teach english to starving children for a couple years before they move back to [fill in blank of other big city here] to continue working as an executive director at a non-profit that they founded with a friend in college. Every now and then you get a "I'm Here for My Fam" (I kind of count myself in that bucket), but mostly the first two. More generally I suppose you could just lump them into "optimists" and "pessimists", but these labels are more fun. So, for a roll up of the topics that keep coming up again and again, let's get started:

  1. Cost of Rent: Yeah. It's really f-ing expensive. That should be the title of my memoir from my times in San Francisco.
    1. Pro-SF: That's just the cost of living here! But look at the great things that SF has to offer. The culture! The parks! The sunshine! Where else can you brew your own beer, have a farm to table meal and then go to a museum for their new exhibit on the seduction prints of Japan in one day?! 
    2. DFSFF: It's too expensive. And it's all those stupid tech companies' fault. If they didn't inflate the average income so much in this geographic area, we wouldn't have to deal with it.
    3. My Take: Shit is just expensive yo. It's what you get when you combine basic economics + small geographic area (limited supply) + great weather + more jobs in the area. Plus, California, especially northern California, is just generally a nice place to live. It sucks, but it's not the employee's fault. We just want to have jobs.
  2. The Traffic: Especially if you commute to the south bay for work. This is your life. This would be the subtitle, so I could mimic Dr. Strangelove. My memoir, for the record, is titled (so far): "Cost of Rent: Yeah. It's really f-ing expensive OR "The Traffic: This is mein kampf". Though I don't know why I decided to go german with that last part.
    1. Pro-SF: It will get better- we just need to make better transportation! We have a growing population so it makes sense.
    2. DFSFF: Again, totally the fault of all these damn tech companies. Without them, we wouldn't be pumping all these cars on the road-- all friggin' hipsters driving their racing-striped mini cooper from SF to Cupertino every day. Have you SEEN the 280 recently?!
    3. My Take: This one is probably mostly to the fault of the tech companies. There are a lot of people (especially younger people) who are moving to the bay area for jobs, but don't want to live in the burbs. So we commute. Usually we use buses, but some of us don't. Sorry about it.
  3. Adults Acting Like Kids: or, Never never land syndrome. And not the creepy Michael Jackson kind.
    1. Pro-SF: That's the magic of SF! You have the freedom and the youthful energy to pursue those things that you WANT and no one is going to tell you that you CAN'T do it or that your ideas are silly. We live and think out of the box here! There are no lines to color out of!
    2. DFSFF: But seriously. Living with roommates when you're in your 30s? And what about the dating scene? No one is ready to settle down, everyone just keeps dating....forever. In a flaky way.
    3. My Take: Boo on living with roommates (though seriously that's the only way to afford anything decent). I live in the tenderloin because I just couldn't do it for my first year here. I needed my space. Dating is actually good out here because there's so many good options. But it's true, if you're looking to settle down, it's hard to find someone on the same wavelength as you.
There's many more, but I wanted to throw out those three to begin with. Each of those three could be broken down into tirades all on their own, but you have to start somewhere. Coming back home has been a little of a mixed bag, but I'm back. And writing again, so I'm sure we'll see more of each other again in the future :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where Mobile Payments Meets Life

Me and a couple of my really cool friends are into mobile payments (I'm not alone!). So, when we have life crises that we need to talk about we often revert to where we are most comfortable. It's the best way for us to express our emotions. Well, not actually, but we tried to imagine what it would be like if that really was how do conducted ourselves in life... and I thought ensued was pretty funny. They even suggested that I should make a new blog that would be "Ms Cleo meets mobile payments"...Some excerpts:

J:  no no
tomorrow is fine
also I need to ask your opinion on some stuff
not mobile payments related

me:  oh ok
are you sure?
becuse i do have an opinion on that
im sure.

 J:  ha
it would be funny if you turned it into mobile payments
"So I'm really having a hard time with my life. I don't know what to do."
"Well J...merchants didn't know what to do when they couldn't afford a credit card processor."
"Then square came along."
 Sent at 12:10 AM on Thursday

 me:  lol
i am totally going to do that

 J:  "Ninny. I don't know what to do. I'm totally in love with this girl, but she is married and has a kid."
"You know what that sounds like?"
"Ebay was in love with PayPal although PayPal was already tied to other systems, but Ebay did what it thought was right and married PayPal."
 Sent at 12:14 AM on Thursday

 me:  lol
"sometimes shit just doesnt work out in the beginning, but then, you know, you keep the right partners around you and before you know it, well-- it still maybe wont work out, but you'll feel better"
 Sent at 12:16 AM on Thursday

 J:  haha
I'm going to email this convo to [our other friends]
 And finally our response from our friends was:
"I'm trying to make a better life for me and my kid but the past keeps coming back to haunt me. How do I move on?"

"You know P, when I have those dark moments and I need direction, I always think - what would Google Wallet do? Would they partner with a couple banks to try out their product in the mass-market, or would they make it an Android-exclusive service that's more focused on helping you manage your loyalty cards than replacing the plastic in your wallet? If you think about it like that, life makes a lot sense."

I don't know if this is there way of telling me I'm heartless, or if they're just excited that I'm nerdy like them. Regardless, I am constantly reminded about how lucky I am to have people like this in my life.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Am Wiser Now and Stuff

And I'm back... haha after a little hiatus. A lot has been happening-- with graduation and all that good stuff, and a lot of life changes. Here are some things I've learned over the past couple weeks:

  • There is a direct, inverse correlation between the amount of time left in b-school and the number of social engagements that happen. This is due to a couple of things:
    • People suddenly realize that they might have messed up "the best two years of their lives" and are desperately trying to rectify that. Desperately.
    • People suddenly realize they have a lot of money and by money, I mean debt. Lots of debt. But, on the upside, this is debt that has already occurred, so even though we've learned about sunk cost, we want to get the most "bang for our buck" by "spending it optimally" (read: "bang for your buck" = "as fast as possible before we graduate and loans are not something that just happens every quarter anymore and "spending it optimally" = "buying rounds of fireballs much against your better judgement")
    • The school also plans a couple of these things, but I think we take it upon ourselves to make it more epic every single time than it needs to be. Because. #YOLO.
  •  Breaking up kind of sucks. It brings out the worst in everyone, and it has lasting effects. It's kind of like that awkward picture of you as a tween-- you try to keep burying it (because I deal with my emotions in a healthy way) but it keeps popping up at inopportune moments like you birthday, your wedding and your funeral (yeah I just Up-movied you). Luckily, there's websites like Single Steve that assures me that I'm not alone.
  • Cats know when you're sad. And then they sleep on your face and cuddle you so hard that they wake you up. It's the most adorable thing and the most annoying thing all rolled up into one. Which actually explains cats pretty accurately.
  • The real estate market in San Francisco is insane. Seriously, insane. We're talking first born child in exchange for a 200 square foot efficiency studio (which is code for: sometimes you have to share a bathroom). Also, the Tenderloin district in San Francisco is not as sketchy as I remember.
  • Chelsea Clinton is killin' it. She's definitely part of my generation, and she's been able to take approximately a million different roles (PhD, McKinsey, campaigner, Wall Street and more) and she's been able to handle it with grace. Now she's dedicating more of her time to her parent's foundation (now rebranded with her name prominently in the title) and she makes no excuses and has no regrets about all the changes and decisions she's made. Especially right now, I find her ability to pick up, move on and start over really inspiring.
To new beginnings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The High Tech Industry Is On Fire!

Alibaba. I have admired you from afar for many years now, and never have I felt closer to you than when I visited your booth at the MAGIC fashion conference in Las Vegas earlier this year (although, to be fair, you might want to train your sales people a little bit better because they weren't able to explain to me how the ordering process worked if there were multiple shipments to various locations but under one company, just sayin'.) and now, lo and behold, you have returned my affections! You're thinking about doing an IPO to raise $15-20B, which is no small chunk of change. Should I be scared though? What are you going to do with all that money? I have some loyalties to PayPal, so please don't hedge them out with your digital payments system. I do like though, that you're boosting up Yahoo since they have a large stake in you. So thanks for that. You're really going to be a game-changer-- outsourcing for products and materials will never be the same :)

Here's the requisite "Apple is going into mobile payments" post.

But speaking of Apple, Apple just split their stock which means that they're below the threshold to be included in the DOW. This could be awesome.

But not so awesome? Apparently there was a case awhile ago between a bunch of big tech firms alleging that they were conspiring to regulate hiring between them to drive down wages. Although they've admitted to instating no-hire rules between them, their argument is that it wasn't to drive down wages.  I actually believe this because I feel like they have more to gain by simply respecting each other and not poaching talent than driving down wages. I mean, wages have exploded over the past few years and I don't really see that stopping any time soon, so even if that was their intent, they've failed.

Amazon is still disappointing shareholders, but shareholders are still bullish for some reason. They did hit the diminished forecasts released by analysts, but their international sales are only growing by 18% and with the increase in their prime package, it's hard to say what will happen to their profitability in the future...My gut tells me that they will need to continue raising their prices in order to cover the (pretty luxurious) services that their customers have grown accustomed to. That means higher prime (already done), higher percentages for merchants (done a little bit, to some backlash, but I would expect for it to happen more often and with higher percentages) and a bigger push on their digital streaming stuff (already happening). The real question will come when the merchants aren't willing to pay and the consumers aren't willing to pay. If they're driving away their business by increasing prices, will they still be considered the world's most customer-centric company? Will they still be able to be profitable when they don't have the support of their customers?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Is the Future of Net Neutrality?

A million signatures for something that isn't even proposed yet? Say what you will about Americans being apathetic political people, but when it comes to the threat of them taking away our internet, it's over! I don't care who we elect to be leader of the free world, but if I can't stream old episodes of Doug, then I refuse to live in this country. It might sound crazy, but the debate over net neutrality are heating up. According to the New York Times article, "Defending the Open Internet", the internet is essentially up for grabs-- should it regulated as an utility? Something that is almost like a public commodity like electricity or indoor plumbing? Should companies like Netflix be able to pay to make their transmission into viewers homes faster? If they're willing to pay for it, then it should be allowed, argue some. On the other hand, shouldn't internet be equal for all? But their livelihood (providing entertainment to people as quickly as possible) is critically dependent on the speed of the internet!

My guess? The FCC will let them do it, but the cost will be high to begin with. As they begin to agree on how to create and define the pricing tiers, the elite companies will pay the exorbitant amounts, and the little guys (non-Netflix) will begin to be pushed out. It will also be harder for two guys to start something in the garage (as the founder of Digg has pointed out) but this simply means the big guys will have more incentive to fund the little guys, which decreases creativity, but increases the burden on the larger corporations.