What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I was born in Brooklyn. My parents came to the USA as refugees from the Soviet Union and landed in NYC shortly after. The City I grew up in is different than the playground that it is currently, but a lot of the personality remains. SF was a village that I visited often, but couldn’t have a real relationship with until ridesharing came along. Before then, it was unnavigable for a New Yorker. Once it was “unified”, it became my home shortly after.
Describe your experience in SF and your experience in NYC.
The island at the center of the world, is the perfect way to describe NYC. It was founded as New Amsterdam on the principle of commerce during a time that was the Dutch Golden Age. Art, science, music… they were all thriving. The rest of the eastern seaboard was founded by religious zealots. And those founding cultures have persisted for centuries. SF is similarly true to its roots. It was founded by pioneers and that continues to be the culture here. It’s a town of people living in different futures, each individual striving to create their own version of it and seeing if the world catches up. SF is the only place I’ve ever been where nothing is impossible.
What was the biggest challenge of moving between NYC and SF?
The transition from a City to a Town is a difficult one. The distance has an impact too. Moscow is only 1559 miles from London, and the differences in how people perceive and respond to the world reflect the divide. SF is a lot like Hollywood, at least from my New York perspective. Every idea is “Awesome!” “Innovative!” “World-Changing!”. It’s “this app” meets “that app”… with a twist! Not really. In NYC, I found people are a lot more straightforward.
How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
NYC understands building brands. SF understands building technology. Beautiful things happen when the two intersect.
Favorite SF secret spot
The Burning Man Art warehouse on Treasure Island. But that could be just because it combines a lot of my favorite words into one sentence.
Favorite NYC secret spot
Temple Bar. Elegant, quiet, delicious and hidden in plain sight.
If you were not where you are now, what would you be doing?
There are always more ideas. I’d be off building another.
Roadtrip Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
This Week in Startups varies from being insightful to funny to humbling. And the host, Jason Calacanis, transitioned from Brooklyn to SF, so he’s a kindred spirit. Though I may be biased, since he’s an investor in Birdi.