When I was at Columbia University in the 80s people from NYC had a very condescending attitude towards other people in the USA, the worst comments were towards people in NJ, they used to call them “the bridge and tunnel crowd”. But Californians didn’t do well either. One joke went “how many people do you need in San Francisco to change a light bulb?” and the answer was “5, one to change it and 4 to share the experience”. New Yorkers would laugh at how Californians loved to share as if sharing was a bad thing. And after living for 18 years in NYC I also felt that people in California were too soft, not built like tough New Yorkers. But then I left for Spain and sharing, as in California, was an essential part of local culture.
After NYC I moved to Madrid and built a company, Fon, that is based on the concept of sharing: “sharing wifi at home and roaming the world for free connecting to others who share with you” and it became the largest WiFi network in the world. Interestingly even though the company was in Madrid many of my key backers, Google, Qualcomm, Sequoia, Index, were from California.
And now I am building Prelude Fertility, which is partly about sharing, sharing your gametes, sperm, eggs, wombs, to help others have babies or about sharing your young self with your older self, preserving your fertility for when you are infertile. Prelude is about social fertility.
And since we arrived to San Francisco August 16th, and now to Los Altos, we have enjoyed the generosity of those who live here. We get invited to so many places, it´s a struggle to be able to pay for anything. Friends who are entrepreneurs like Ale Resnik Nadim Ned Taleb Alex Garden Hans Peter Brondmo invite me to their companies, share their strategies with me, open up. And so do I, I share my strategy. We all help each other.
Even though I have been a tech entrepreneur since 1987 I had never spent more than a few days in California, always in and out, mostly to raise money for my companies in Europe which were generally funded by the crazy people of California. But now living here for a while I can say it without hesitation. Those in NYC don’t know what they are missing. Sharing is better. NYC soften up, it will do you a lot of good. Williamsburg seems to be learning first. Williamsburg and others areas of Brooklyn have become a kinder NYC.