"Contract with San Francisco"?

The Republicans, led by Karl Rove, are rallying the base with the image of “Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.” Instead of “Contract with America,” the tag line goes, she’ll offer the USA … “Contract with San Francisco.”

I have a lot of problems with Ms Pelosi—and am distinctly unexcited with the idea of her as speaker—though I’d love to see a woman on the job. (On the other hand, Speaker Hastert, The Sequel, is hardly the sort of thing that stirs one’s heart either. )

But that’s not my point. My point is much simpler, speaking as a 30-year resident of the SF Bay Area (7 years residence in SF working for McKinsey, 20+ years “on the Peninsula”—Woodside and Palo Alto). And it is: We could, as a nation, do a helluva lot worse than emulating San Francisco and the Bay Area. In fact, I fervently believe we’d have a hard time doing better. Put aside the debate on gay marriage or whatever bugs Mr Rove’s base. Think instead: concentration of academic excellence, with a true global peer only in MA. Accumulated-accumulating intellectual property—unmatched anywhere in the world. Venture capital by the trainload, from Angels to IPOs. Start-ups and more startups—and an extraordinary infrastructure to support them. Sustainable (to the extent that’s possible today) global leadership in perhaps half the fields of science-enterprise that’ll determine U.S. economic life or death over the next quarter century. Bizarrely energetic immigrants by the tens of thousands—with thousands more in the queue. Pure & simple critical mass acting as a talent and money and raw-energy attractant—and forming the backdrop for a robust, rapid Darwinian competitive sorting process. “Business models” galore, undergoing constant refinement, that are, at the moment, impenetrable by our new international competitors. Etc. Etc. And, to be sure, an awful NBA franchise—nobody’s perfect.

“Contract with the San Francisco Bay Area”? We should be so lucky!

(Some will argue that SF is not the “Bay Area.” Wrong, very wrong. The special potion that makes up the magical Bay Area depends on ingredients, direct and indirect, from SF in a thousand ways. No SF, no Bay Area—and no most potent locale & definer-of-the-future in the world, bar none.)

Tom Peters posted this on June 5, 2006, in General.
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