Mayor Bill DeBlasio is on the verge of making NYC one of the most unfriendly cities in the world for technology companies to operate.
It first started with Airbnb, which got caught in a crackdown aimed at people who turn "affordable" residential housing into full time hotel space. Don't concern yourself with the fact that Airbnb is simply an outgrowth of the lack of affordable housing--where no one would ever bother renting out their place if they didn't have to struggle to afford to live here. Don't concern yourself with the fact that it's the city that green lights all of the luxury condos going up all over the city in place of reasonable housing.
They could have created a reasonable, nuanced set of rules that allows me to rent my place out when I'm not there, like the four times a year I'm out in San Francisco trying to convince valley VCs to invest here, to someone who needs it. Most of these renters are tourists who contribute to the NYC economy and who can't afford $450 a night for a hotel--people we should be aiming to attract. Instead, the baby got thrown out with the bathwater here and renting your whole place is illegal.
And now, our anti-tech progress Mayor is helping NYC join an exclusive list of cities that have stood in the way of Uber providing an innovative consumer service that is in high demand.
Regardless of how you feel about Uber as a company or their management, it's really hard to argue that New Yorkers don't want this service. It's also hard to argue that anyone who supports NYC's tech community wouldn't have rather had Uber build their company here versus in San Francisco. Uber employs 3000 people, more than most startups in NYC do, and is only six years old. Same with Airbnb. Imagine what the NYC tech community would be like had Uber and Airbnb grown up here.
Well, what are the chances of that given our anti-innovation policies regarding these two companies?
Would NYC rather be on the side of innovation, or the side of the taxi lobby, who donated over $550,000 to the Mayor's campaign?
In LA, it has made getting around the city transformationally easier. I've spoken to at least ten LA residents in the last year who have said they no longer need a car because of services like Uber and Lyft.
Similarly, Uber makes getting around in the outer boroughs of NYC much much easier, as well as to and from the airports. I don't think I would have ever been able to find a green cab had it not been for Uber. Remember, this is the Mayor who initially wanted to curb green cabs--a program that quadrupled the number of outer borough taxi fares picked up--because the yellow cab lobby was against it.
It may or may not be necessary to have Uber in Manhattan, but then again, it's not totally clear to me that *any* cabs are necessary in Manhattan--or cars in general. That's why I was a big fan of the congestion pricing setup that Mike Bloomberg proposed a few years ago.
If DiBlasio really wants to prevent traffic fatalities and improve the air quality, as well as make it faster to get around here, he should take a look at plans to limit driving across the board instead of targeting one company.
Has Car2Go, in my opinion one of the best things to happen to outer borough transportation, undergone the same governmental scrutiny for taking up 400 Brooklyn parking spaces (or half spaces, since they're little Smart cars)?
Has Via, the new bus service come under fire?
What about WeWork? While smaller startups benefit from the coworking company's great facilities, larger companies looking to expand are fighting with the multi-billion dollar real estate behemoth for already expensive larger commercial space.
Not yet, because it seems like the NYC government picks and chooses which startups it wants to go after depending on which lobby being disrupted complains the most.
Given that kind of environment, what's the likelihood that the next Uber or Airbnb will want to set up shop in New York City?