No. 203: Tackling Gentrification | Fourth Industrial Revolution and Africa | Kathryn Gould – OG VC

Chris Tyson Is Smart About Cities (Protege Podcasts)

Protege Podcasts host Rory Verrett and East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority CEO Chris Tyson had a fantastic conversation that eventually moved to focus on gentrification and what to do about it. Tyson argued that the “buy the block” efforts pushed by the late Nipsey Hussle, Jay-Z and others is not going to move the needle in keeping neighborhoods affordable for folks. His position is that policies that have boxes poor people and minorities out are what need to be dealt with in order to move the needle on housing avoiding the bad effects of gentrification.

I agree that we have to deal with policy and believe that the “buy the block” mantra is a key part of pushing policy. Policies going back to redlining and other discriminatory policies did not emerge in a vacuum. Certain powerful individuals lived and invested in certain neighborhoods they wanted to keep a certain way for themselves and their friends. This reality shaped the policies they wrote or influenced. Similarly, while folks like Nipsey invest in neighborhoods leading the charge for other black folks to invest in their neighborhoods policymakers like Randall Woodfin can shift policies to ensure folks don’t found themselves boxed out of the neighborhood they grew up in. Moving the needle on keeping neighborhoods inclusive and affordable for folks requires massive effort at the individual or group and policy-level.

Artificial Intelligence, at Africa’s Door (UNESCO)

Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor at University of Johannesburg, discusses what the rise of the fourth industrial revolution means for Africa. The fourth industrial revolution is essentially where we will see major breakthroughs in technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biotechnology.

Marwala points out the importance of the private sector and policymakers in Africa paying attention to developments with industrial robots and data gathering. He also pushes the importance of African countries participating in the development of technology and figuring out how to develop their manufacturing capacity.

Two of the many realities of the future face African policymakers. Industrial robots will shift the appetite manufacturers have for labor costs. African countries need to craft environments for enormous job creation for their ballooning populations. These are only a sampling of the factors that have opened an opportunity for African business leaders and policymakers to take a creative approach to handling these issues.

While Marwala suggests leaders create plans like China’s Made in China plan or AI strategy, and I think it’s key leaders avoid copying and pasting while pushing themselves to really think outside the box to find the levers that might swing Africa from trying to catch up to being in the thick of the global competition to shape the future.

The Kingmaker in the Background: Kathryn Gould (Strictly VC)

I stumbled across this fascinating interview with the late Kathryn Gould, clearly a rockstar in the venture capital world for decades beginning in the 1980s. A great quote from the interview:

You also hear VCs talk about how one company in their portfolio will be a huge winner, two or three will be also-rans, and the rest will be write-offs. Well, that’s bullsh_t. I didn’t go into a deal unless I thought it was going to be a winner. All 10 had to win, that was my attitude. A lot of VCs run and hide, but I worked hard, I was a good fixer, and I earned my money.

No. 80: Can Tech and Government Work Together?

What does it look like for tech startups and governments to work together well? Andreessen Horowitz posted a new podcast with Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser today to discuss this, alongside former DC mayor Adrian Fenty. Pretty good conversation.

Some of the topics covered in the conversation, included:

1. Catching up to the technology startup sector with the proper regulatory environment;
2. The progress DC government has made in incorporating technology in its service provision; and
3. Pain points that startups could be helpful in addressing – affordable housing and wellness are examples.

What was Mayor Bowser doing out on the West Coast talking to the Andreessen Horowitz folks when Steve Case is in town, you ask? Apparently, the US Conference of Mayors met in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Further, the DC connection to Andreessen Horowitz is not a particularly new one. Former DC mayor Adrian Fenty, who was also on the podcast, is a special advisor at the firm.

The intersection between governments and the startup community will only increase, particularly as Andreessen Horowitz’s theory that software is eating the world continues to prove true. It’s cool to see conversations like these taking place.

No. 62: Africa’s Top Mayors

I am a huge fan of cities and their ability to create an environment in which people can thrive, so seeing the results of the African Mayor Awards last week was pretty cool. Awarded at the 2nd Africa Urban Infrastructure Investment Forum, the mayors of Praia, Cape Verde; Kinondoni, Tanzania; and Accra, Ghana were the winners for the small (pop. <200,000), intermediate (pop. 200,000-1,000,000), and large (pop. >1,000,000) city categories, respectively, based on this criteria:

Display exemplary qualities in leadership and vision, innovative thinking, management capabilities and integrity, social awareness, foster economic growth and development, ability to provide security and to protect the environment as well as the will and ability to foster good relations between communities from different cultural and social backgrounds.

Accra beat out Cape Town and Dakar for the large city category. That is pretty impressive. Ghana also had two cities shortlisted for the awards. Asunafo secured a short-listing for the intermediate-sized cities.

The judges reviewed submissions from cities across the continent that submitted for consideration for the award. I will update this post with more information on the contents of the winning submissions should I come across that information.

Considering the judges of the awards, the Youthful Cities Index may be a nice balance to gauging how great city leadership is on the continent. According to the index, based on analysis of primary and secondary sources on young people between ages 19 and 29, Johannesburg is the best city on the continent for young people.

Let’s see how this competition shapes up for next year.

No. 52: Municipal Broadband Gets President Obama’s Attention

I was excited to read that President Obama has set his sights on ensuring that cities can develop their own broadband networks, should they choose to do so. While working with the Georgia Municipal Association, we had a couple of close calls that would have prevented Georgia cities from operating their own broadband networks. President Obama is going to hold a press conference tomorrow to outline his plan for improving broadband connectivity. His main initiatives include:

1. Pushing for an end to laws in states that prohibit the development of broadband services;

2. Growing a network of cities committed to growing broadband connectivity in their communities;

3. Provision of technical assistance for the development of broadband networks in community;

4. Offer of loans and grants for rural broadband providers; and

5. Creation of Broadband Opportunity Council tasked with identifying regulatory barriers with the goal speeding up broadband deployment and uptake.

This is important to watch. The US economy is bouncing back in some ways, but there is yet more economic potential to realize. After following the writings of founders and investors like Marc Andreesen and Peter Thiel, I am convinced that the internet economy will be driving that realization for the next several years. We need as many people as possible participating.