Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Next Great #SxSW Swindle


"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

From the Guardian:
Very quietly, and a little secretly, an unprecedented gathering of American mayors has arrived in Austin, Texas.

Twenty mayors, from Kansas City, Sacramento, Portland, Albuquerque, Baltimore and elsewhere, have been drawn here to the SXSW festival, though most have a packed schedule that is closed to journalists and the public. Amazon; Google; Austin’s HomeAway vacation rentals firm; and Maven, General Motors’ ride-sharing service, have been privately pitching to them. They’ve held a little startup shark tank. They’re touring new designs for space-efficient housing and hearing about surveillance technology.

Government has been a hot topic throughout the annual technology conference in Austin. It’s the first time a sitting president has visited, and the event comes at a time when the FBI-Apple debate is stirring tension between civic offices and tech companies. Tech companies seeking to get around regulation are also noticing just how much trouble a mayor can cause.

Over a cocktail reception at city hall, the mayors talked about how to attract engineers to their cities, how to negotiate with union-resistant startups, and what they can do to get Google Fiber to pick them.

“First of all, we’ve all been wanting to come to South By for a while, and this is a great excuse,” said Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. “And then there’s just the reality: the biggest problems just can’t be solved without tech right now.”

....

A lot of this, Stanton said, comes down to “coolness”. “The game is talent – a place like Austin built a brand that’s cool. Phoenix is cool, too.”

At the private mayoral shark tank, Stanton sat with his 20 fellow mayors over breakfast burritos and coffee and listened as startups gave their all, hoping to score lucrative city contracts.
Read the whole thing here.

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