"The coffee rush. The lunch rush. The columns of headphone-equipped tech
workers rushing in and out of train stations. The lanyard-wearing visitors who
crowded the sidewalks when a big conference was in town.
There was a time three years ago when a walk through downtown San Francisco was
a picture of what it meant for a city to be economically successful. Take the
five-minute jaunt from the office building at 140 New Montgomery Street to a
line-out-the-door salad shop nearby.
The 26-story building, an Art Deco landmark that was once the tallest in the
city, began its life as the headquarters for the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph
Company. Decades later, it served as the home of the local search company Yelp.
The nearby salad store was part of a fast-growing chain called Mixt.
Yelp and Mixt had little more than proximity in common, which at that time was
enough. Yelp was an idea that became billions of dollars in value on the
internet. Mixt was a booming business serving lunchtime salads to the workers
who traveled on electrified trains and skateboards to their jobs in downtown
Their virtuous cycle of nearness, of new ideas becoming new companies, feeding
other ideas that become other companies, was the template for urban growth.
Businesses like Yelp took root in the high-energy, high-density city; chains
like Mixt flourished alongside them as their workers ventured out for lunch. As
downtowns have emptied out, their once-symbiotic relationship is coming
Via Bill Daul.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics