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Show Notes

It’s Black Friday Forever in America: This week, we ask the question on everyone’s minds: are we happy that Amazon is coming to Queens? On one hand, our own consumer choices have brought this upon us. Amazon is great at eliminating steps (hey there, Same-Day Delivery and 1-Click Ordering). But on the other hand, now we can’t live without them. Is Amazon is obsessed with scale and expansion? Will New York tolerate not owning an entire sector of the economy? Is any mass expansion good for society?

Paul Ford Remember too— you know, this is also— Bill Gates is now a saint who flutters around and—

Rich Ziade [Crosstalk] Saint Gates, yes.

PF— and cures malaria. Not really but sort of like uh but he— this was him!

RZ Yeah.

PF Like Microsoft would be like, “That’s a really nice new product category you’ve created.” And you’d go, “Hey th— [makes pained garbled sounds].”

RZ [Laughs] Just the shoes are spit out.

PF [Laughing] Yeah you’re just— your skeleton is just flopped on the ground.

RZ Yeah [music fades in, plays alone for 18 seconds, ramps down]. Alright, Paul, so you’re the mayor of a little town— not a little town.

PF Not a little town?

RZ It’s 11 miles from a major airport.

PF Mm ok.

RZ And uh it’s uh geographically [music fades out] it’s— it’s in a nice spot; everything’s an hour flight away mostly [right] and Amazon put you on the list. You’re the mayor.

PF Oof! This is exciting.

RZ What are you [ahhh] willing to do?

PF Well, I gotta make a really amazing presentation. I gotta like [yes] — I gotta really get my story straight. So Amazon comes to you and says, “Hey, you know, we’re gonna build a huge headquarters [chuckles] with 50,000 people” [yeah]. Uh that’s how they getcha [yeah], when you’re like, “I’m gonna be remembered, they’re gonna put a statue up to me.”

RZ Yeah.

PF Uhh—

RZ So you go nuts.

PF Oh! You get the Mackenzie consultants in; you create a deck; you talk about the things you’re gonna do; the things you’re gonna build. You’re gonna put a fountain! You know? I’m gonna [yeah] make a— I’ll stand up a new mall!

[1:38]

RZ It’s just a he— it’s just Bezos’s head [uh] with water squirting out of it.

PF [Makes laser sound] Out of both of his eyes.

RZ Out of both his eyes. That’s the centre fountain.

PF “The Tears of Jeff Bezos” is the name of the statue. And so I’ll do anything. I will do anything to get Amazon to build its headquarters.

RZ Within— within legal limits and moral limits, I’m sure.

PF Well, see this is the problem, right?

RZ It gets murky there, right?

PF Cuz the moral limits is like— yeah I mean let’s say that um New York is gonna give 1.2 billion dollar in tax credits to Amazon.

RZ Ok.

PF And so Amazon says it’s gonna spend, you know, five billion dollars to build.

RZ Probably create billions in employment.

PF Well that’s the long-term thing I mean but—

RZ It’s real! I mean that’s math. That’s kinda how this works, right?

PF I know but think about—

RZ I just feel bad for like, you know, whoever’s in Illinois who doesn’t have 1.2 billion.

PF Yeah well that’s— that was never gonna happen. Let’s be honest.

RZ That’s the sort of the more— the more cynical view of this whole process. Another town or city, I don’t know what to call ‘em at this point, offered to remain the town Amazon.

PF Ah well they’re all gonna do that anyway.

[2:46]

RZ [Laughs boisterously] I mean also Long Island City’s a shitty name. Let’s— let’s— let’s be frank.

PF It’s a really confusing, right?

RZ That’s bizarre. [Well—] I didn’t know what it meant. At first it sounds like oh it’s a— it’s a— it’s a complex. I thought it was like— you know what Starrett City is?

PF Yeah. Tell the people though.

RZ Alright. Starrett City was this project— I’m gonna screw this up but it was something like this— it was sort of this—

PF Where this? Is this Canarsie?

RZ This is like between Canarsie, you’re about ten minutes from Kennedy airport, a landfill is across the road.

PF Mm. But you’re gonna create this place where people can live in the true global New York City, you know, [yes!] you’re gonna be able to hop over to JFK, go wherever, and have a New York City lifestyle.

RZ And the program one—

PF This is the seventies or the late sixties?

RZ This is seventies, early eighties.

PF Ok. Ok.

RZ It’s gets stood up and there were commercials that are probably on YouTube.

PF Oof.

RZ Here’s the thing: it was not like oh, condos are going up. This was—

PF “We’re building the community.”

RZ No, no. It was— it was like, you know, projects, essentially or subsidized housing and whatnot. It was kind of in between that.

[3:53]

PF Ok.

RZ So it was— it was better amenities; it was new; and it was going to look at your income and—

PF Mixed income housing. Mixed inc— yeah.

RZ It was yeah it was kind of this— this model that I think at the time was pretty new.

PF Yeah.

RZ It’s since become a very dangerous place.

PF Yeah.

RZ So, back to Amazon. So, Amazon has selected two locations, Paul. One is—

PF For HQ too! Because there’s about 50,000 employees in Seattle and it’s outgrown it, it wants to have a big, national presence.

RZ By the way, the fact that you can outgrow a city [Paul laughs] is something.

PF Not Seattle.

RZ You can outgrow an office space.

PF You can outgrow Seattle in about 25 minutes [Rich laughs]. It’s a beautiful library.

RZ So they picked. They had this little contest [mm hmm]. It wasn’t little—

PF No, it was big.

RZ A lot of people spent a lot of money on this thing.

PF It was great PR. I mean you gotta give it to Amazon, they are absolute ruthless bastard monsters. They will savagely do everything [yeah] and in this case, usually they’ll just sort of optimize cloud services brutally or create really, really good packing strategies or underpay all of their factory workers. Amazon is rough. Kinda rough—

RZ It’s a— it’s a machine. I mean it’s a—

[5:06]

PF It just did America like it does sort of consumer trade.

RZ I have to imagine there’s a radio program where people were saying Sears is rough.

PF It was. Sears was— it’s always tricky, right? Sears created a different kind of playing field for consumers in America but yeah, it— it wrecked the little local stores.

RZ Yeah it’s the same thing. I mean it was like there was a guy who had a storefront that he sold dishwashers and that— he was really proud of it and he had good relationship with Maytag and he was doing his thing and then within six miles you can get to a Sears and Sears dropped in from the sky. That’s it!

PF Sears— Sears would ship you a house.

RZ Sears’ll ship you a house!

PF So these things are very disruptive, they really do change the way— I mean, look: I got ten Amazon boxes piled up for me at  home right now. I’m sure. Right? [Yeha] It’s just— that’s my life right now. I got two little kids. I’m not going to Target, if I can help it.

RZ They’re easy to open; they got those pillowy, air-filled kinda weird plastic air things.

PF I have a subscription to vitamins. It’s wonderful.

RZ I have, I mean—

PF I used to— I used to buy magazines but now [chuckles] —

RZ No, I mean—

PF Aveeno face spray.

RZ That’s the thing right? It’s just it’s bad— it’s bad and Black Friday— apparently Black Friday is in August now.

PF Oh it’s we— Black Friday forever, in America now.

RZ It’s Black Friday forever. Which sounds bad!

PF It’s Black Friday today. No.

RZ It sounds dark.

[6:26]

PF I’m gonna run out and just— I’m gonna steal like all the TVs off the wall and run out of this office. That’s—

RZ So they’re a machine; and they are about scale; and they are about expansion; and— and— I do need my floss and my medal belt hanger, and my chocolate covered bananas three hours earlier. So I’m really excited about—

PF Don’t forget your 20,000 Linux servers that you need to accelerate your content delivery in the cloud with.

RZ Exactly. So here we are! And it’s Virginia and New York, and it’s New York City, and it’s Long Island City which for those that—

PF Well, that’s sort of the Seattle of New York.

RZ [Chuckling] It’s sort of the Seattle of New York. I mean New York’s just is— it’s, I mean, it’s incredible in its density; and in it’s— it’s scale.

PF You know, we should, again, for the outside, Long Island City has been a kind of up and coming neighborhood for awhile [yes]. It’s a cool place. There’s lots going on.

RZ It’s pricey and it’s nice and—

PF A lot of young people. It’s— it’s a little bigger than that, there are definitely some— some edges to it where they could put the headquarters. They could also get— there’s a huge building run by Citibank or that has Citibank’s logo on it. It’s always unsure who owns and controls what when it comes to a building but apparently a huge amount of space has opened in there. So—

RZ So they’re gonna eat into the whole area—

PF Well that would drop them right into the middle of— of sort of that downtown part of Que— Long Island City is in Queens.

RZ Yes.

PF Which is one of the boroughs of New York City [yup] but it’s tricky because both Queens and Brooklyn are on Long Island [yeah] but when you talk about Long Island, it starts at the edge of Brooklyn and Queens. So outsiders, I remember for— it could take a minute to sort of understand our screwed up geography but um I dunno, maybe they’ll drop themselves into the middle [music fades in] and that’s— that’s— there’s like ten trains right there. That’s good. [Music plays alone for four seconds, ramps down]. Hey, Rich! Long Island City might be great [music fades out] but you know what else is great? Manhattan!

[8:20]

RZ Hell yeah!

PF Especially 101 5th Avenue which is where you’ll find the offices of Postlight.

RZ I gotta say: it’s one of the cutest things—

PF I love it.

RZ Since we started the company, you were so proud of being at 101 5th Avenue. You would think we were—

PF That we owned the building, first of all.

RZ That and also we’re just a storefront that sold furs.

PF No. There was this—

RZ It was just— it was so— and I let it go cuz I was like, you know what? This is kinda cute.

PF It’s such a bouncy address, too, [Rich laughs] 101 5th Avenue! It sounds like it should be something.

RZ Well there you—

PF There’s a Zara downstairs.

RZ [Laughing] There is a Zara.

PF You’re gonna go in, you’re gonna buy uh a very expensive twill coat [yeah] and then come upstairs to Postlight where there’s one floor and a seltzer machine [Rich laughs] and we will help you get your thing built. So uh yeah 5th Avenue and here we are. And we really do like helping people build their products. Uh we’ve got a really extraordinary team that is growing and growing and doing good work for many of the companies that we criticize on this show as well as many others.

RZ Yeah! I mean a lot that we— yeah. I mean not all of them. But yeah [laughs].

PF Well, look, you know I—

[9:23]

RZ Media, finance, non— non— NGOs were kind of in there. From Vice Media to Goldman Sachs to just big name clients but we also love the startup. We get those as well uh where they’re trying to stand up the thing.

PF You know what’s real? I used to work for a magazine and I remember when somebody was complaining the New York Times. Like some aspect of its coverage. And one of the editors of the magazine said, “Be mindful. The New York Times contains multitudes.” It’s bigger than that one specific story that pissed you off.

RZ Yes.

PF And that’s the tru— that’s true of all these organizations.

RZ Absolutely.

PF So that’s— that’s how I kind of see the world. That editor? Now works at the New York Times. Look, everything works out for the best!

RZ Full circle!

PF What a joy! [email protected] that is the email address that you need to contact us [music fades in].

RZ Reach out!

PF Let’s get back to talking about Long Island City and Amazon.

RZ Yes [music plays alone for four seconds, ramps down]. So I wanna have a— a— an exercise here. [Music fades out] I mean— this just highlights what Amazon was able to conquer, right? I mean it’s— it’s, you know, he never thought it was just gonna be books. That was just the thing that like, “Let’s get in the door.”

PF Yeah.

RZ And here we are. Bezos is— is scary. He’s a little scary. His head’s too shiny.

PF Well and he started wearing those vests.

[10:42]

RZ Wears vests.

PF Yeah, the padded, quilted vests.

RZ Yeah. So you have this person that essentially is terrified and he’s written about this [mm hmm] that they’re gonna get destroyed.

PF Well, it’s, you know, those—

RZ He’s paranoid about what’s gonna disrupt Amazon which I think has fueled this massive growth. So I want you to tell me the story about Woot—

PF Oh, so it’s incredibly relevant.

RZ But I also want to talk about what is going to decimate Amazon and then they’re gonna have a— I have— I have a prediction that they’re gonna have a continent contest.

PF [Laughing] Yeah, that’s right.

RZ We’ll get to that but Woot. Tell me the Woot—

PF Do you know what Woot is?

RZ I do know Woot. It emails me everyday.

PF Tell the people.

RZ Uh they for a long time there was one product. It was like, “Oh, we found an extra 40,000 t-shirts in San Antonio.”

PF That’s right. And—

RZ You go to retail for 12 bucks!

PF You have two hours to buy them.

RZ “And we’re gonna sell it to you for five. But buy it right now. Dammit. Now.” And there was one button.

PF Also they had great copywriting, just really funny, silly copywriting.

[11:41]

RZ Kinda weird, yeah. It had a brand. They kicked the brand up real fast.

PF And it was before Groupon later kind of had that voice too just like wink and nod and here we go and, anyway, Amazon bought Woot. It’s online retail, right? And the founder of Woot went out with Jeff Bezos for breakfast. And Jeff Bezos, for breakfast, ordered octopus. It was on the menu for breakfast.

RZ Where are they having breakfast? Octopus!

PF I dunno! Rich Person Restaurant is the name of it, just extreme, you know—

RZ It sounds like the beginning of a superhero movie.

PF And it was sort of like why, Jeff? Why do you want Woot? And apparently he went, “I don’t understand it, therefore I need to have it, just like I don’t understand this breakfast octopus and I must have it.”

RZ This is— this is folklore.

PF No, I think if you search ‘breakfast octopus amazon’ you will find this story and so—

RZ No, you won’t. What you’ll find is a breakfast cereal being sold on Amazon that is octopus flavored. [Laughing] That’s what you’re gonna find. If you search anything space amazon—

PF [With Rich:] Amazon! That’s true.

RZ You’re gonna get product.

PF Um, you know, this, “I must have the breakfast octopus.”

RZ Yeah, he’s freaked out.

PF Everything is the breakfast octopus.

RZ Yes. So and— and you’re scared. You’re always scared of that disrupter, right? So cutting out steps is a— is a huge thing, right? For Amazon, right? Like one click buy, subscribe, which means you’re not going back in to subscribe.

PF I think I accidentally subscribed to envelopes and I had to— I might have like 3000 envelopes in my house right now.

[13:10]

RZ Oof!

PF So if anybody need to send something, let me know.

RZ Chip out some envelopes.

PF I think I canceled it. It was coming with the uh—

RZ Hard to know.

PF It was coming with the dandruff shampoo.

RZ Yeah.

PF Yeah, so anyway.

RZ There was a day when you sat there and you played with the different shipping options and the different costs.

PF Ah no! It’s all— it’s all done.

RZ It’s all gone.

PF They’ve taught you to factor it in.

RZ So it’s just steps. Like they just keep cutting steps out.

PF And then there’s— there’s Prime, there’s video, there’s the media platform, there’s all music, and so—

RZ Prime Now which gets you something in two hours.

PF They haven’t been able to land a good audio streaming product, have they?

RZ I mean it’s there.

PF It’s there but it’s the—

RZ It’s not.

[13:46]

PF No—

RZ It’s not there—

PF It seems like that’s Apple and Spotify and Google.

RZ Correct. So, somebody is going— now what steps have they not been able to eliminate?

PF To elimin— ok.

RZ Let’s talk about a couple of ‘em. First of all, when I hit buy [mm hmm], I have to wait—

PF For the thing to come.

RZ For the thing to come.

PF Well they’re working on that.

RZ They’re working on that. Two to three days, three to five days, [yeah] sometimes show up, depending on where it is and whatnot. That’s annoying.

PF Now in a city— in a city you can get things in a couple hours sometimes.

RZ You can. There’s same day. Prime same day which is something that’s picking up now.

PF They also did Sunday delivery.

RZ Ok.

PF And they did an ad hoc delivery thing where like people can, you know, essentially do it for spare change like Uber [yeah] but they— they do— what you notice with Amazon is they always start at the absolute nightmare baseline where it’s just like, “Oh I—” You’re basically paying money to deliver things for Amazon.

RZ Yeah.

PF And then finally people tweet enough that they go, “Ok, I guess we’ll start paying the minimum wage or whatever.” [Yeah] Like they just start at this truly brutal base.

RZ That’s the math, right?

[14:50]

PF That’s the math. No, no, they’re willing— they’re willing to experiment with humans that way.

RZ Alright, so let’s disrupt Amazon. What else?

PF Uh.

RZ Ok, so wait, I gotta open— I gotta grab my phone or my laptop, open the app or the browser and go to Amazon, so let’s eliminate— like I’ve run out of sugar, so they’re trying to do that with subscription but that’s even annoying.

PF It is hard on the dominant platform for mobile which still iOS. I mean Android is everywhere but it’s still— you can’t—

RZ I don’t wanna use a phone. No phone.

PF No phone?

RZ My cupboard is low on sugar.

PF— five dashes buttons.

RZ No, I don’t wanna hit a button! I don’t wanna do anything.

PF Oh, really? This is where we’re going?

RZ My— my cupboard— I think you send a box filled with ten empty containers that have little like WiFi sensors on the bottom of em.

PF Oh and then it sends you refills!

RZ Yeah, and when I get to like a certain weight on the sensor, I just get sugar. Why the hell am I going online to order sugar?

PF It does makes sense.

RZ I have more important things to do, Paul.

PF It also makes sense as long as they don’t send you— if they send it to you too early and you have to empty the bag of sugar but there’s still a little sugar left in the bag.

[16:00]

RZ You can put it on top, no?

PF No, but what if— what if it—

RZ Overflows?

PF Yeah you gotta like—

RZ Ah, no, no, we’ll figure that out.

PF That’s science.

RZ That’s science?!?

PF That’s the risk—

RZ Dude, I hit a button right now and there’s a car in my driveway.

PF I’m just telling you if you— if you live a refill lifestyle which is what I do and you get that little extra bit left in the bag, it’s all over. You don’t wanna live anymore.

RZ [Laughing] But you gotta— you know what you can do? You can—

PF They can figure it out [crosstalk]. They’ll put their best scientists on it.

RZ Alright so you’ve got— you’ve got— essentially, eventually there’s going to be— when you build a house, the counter in your bathroom—

PF Ugh! Now it’s—

RZ— is gonna have sensors. The toothpaste, the soap.

PF Now I have to open a bag, though! I don’t wanna even do that. I want a robot to put it there for me.

RZ Alright, alright, so, ok, now we’re getting there, right? So my house is all wired up with sensors: my kitchen, my bathroom, my bedroom.

PF Lemme give you an interesting like a side example here—

RZ I’m not buying anything!

[16:55]

PF This is really— this is key, right? I have— this will sound really nerdy but it actually gets back to this point. I have a Mac at home and I have this big, old computer that I use for sort of my nerd stuff. Uh like processing logs of data, doing experiments; things I’m gonna write about. And that machine runs the operating system Linux. It’s my nerd machine. I hadn’t even turned it on in like six months. So I turned it back on and then there’s this operating system, Ubuntu— Ubuntu Linux, and it turns out like you get on the Mac now and it’s like, “How do I install Ubuntu Linux?” And the Max is like, “Download this app, put this thing on a flashcard.” Now we’re still talking some steps here. And then I took the flashcard out of the Mac, put it into the Linux machine, rebooted it, and then in ten minutes I had this like relatively shiny, new system.

RZ Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

PF And I switched over to it and I keep forgetting to switch back to the Mac.

RZ Interesting.

PF Like I just— I have everything set up so I hit one button and like I just forget. I’m like, “Oh wait, the Mac is still running, uh,” and then I’m like, “Uh lemme check my email.” And it all kind of works ok.

RZ Cuz of the web. You’re on— your Gmail—

PF It’s the web and actually Ubuntu’s pretty good and the search [yeah] is fine and then it does [yeah] like three of four things a little better the way I like them and—

RZ Yeah. It’s also fast cuz there isn’t so much crap in it.

PF That’s right. And so—

RZ We could have another podcast, man, on Windows 10 and what— what it actually is.

PF I think actually what we gotta do there is just open up Windows 10 and go to town. Like I think it’s just like— and yell at it. But listen, what I’m saying is like I— I really was amazed after, you know, I use a Mac here, I use it—

RZ You were fine!

PF I just didn’t care!

RZ You were fine!

[18:38]

PF I didn’t— no evangelism. Just utter indifference and I—

RZ That’s right.

PF— and I keep forgetting.

RZ Yes. Yes.

PF And that’s where you succeed, sadly, is you— you lock in— sometimes you can do something which will lock into people’s sort of excitement about stuff [yeah] and get them motivated. That’s what politics tries to do; that’s what music and entertainment often does [yeah] but [sighs] for consumer stuff, it is literally like—

RZ You don’t care. You don’t wanna go through that— eliminating steps.

PF I don’t ever wanna have another opinion about sugar.

RZ Would you do this? If they gave you— if Amazon mailed you what looked like a Band-aid.

PF Sure.

RZ Ok? [Mm] And it says, “Please put this on your wrist.”

PF Uh huh.

RZ Ok? And sign a privacy policy. You have to go online, punch the seven digit code that’s on the Band-aid [mm hmm], go online, punch that code in, accept a privacy policy. Ok. And this Band-aid from that point on is gonna do a few things. First off, it can pick up some of your vitamin deficiencies off of your skin; it’ll just send me vitamin D. Just send me the damn jar of vitamin D.

PF All you need—

RZ As we speak, right now, it’s November in New York. My skin’s a little dry. I just need a little lotion.

PF You know the perfect interface—

RZ I’m not gonna go online and get lotion!

[19:49]

PF No, you know what the device of the future is?

RZ What?

PF It’s a band, like that, [mm hmm] and it also has five stars on it, so that you can rank things.

RZ On the band?

PF On the band. That’s it.

RZ So wait I can actually put one to five stars on the band?

PF Yeah.

RZ For what? What am I rating?

PF Well, just about everything because the band’s also gonna get you like onto the subway, into an Uber, out of an Uber. The number one thing you have to in today’s modern day economy is give things five star ratings or not rate them. Those are your two options.

RZ That’s how we were— that’s the only opinion they wanted.

PF Really, actually, they should just make it: good or ignore. Those are your only two options [yeah], right? You could— there could be a bad option but that almost— that’s just ignored.

RZ Yeah.

PF And so um so yeah sure, it’s gonna tell you about these things, it’ll— it’ll fix your vitamin D.

RZ No more shopping cart!

PF That’s right. Can we just—

RZ The death of the shopping cart.

PF Can you just get me on the train, too, without having to find my stupid card?

RZ Ah that should’ve been solved 20 years ago.

PF I know. I mean we’re ready for that—

RZ Maybe that’s a—

[20:44]

PF Imagine this city if you could just wander on and off of transit without thinking about it.

RZ We’d probably kill each other but yeah.

PF [Chuckles] Yeah, sure.

RZ I get— I get it. So that’s the thing, that’s the one— uh let’s name this company. Their slogan, by the way, was ‘Rest in peace, shopping cart.”

PF [Chuckles] Amazon was a river. What’s the— there’s just a large desert. I mean what is this?

RZ I don’t know. Amazon is a river.

PF This is plateau.

RZ [Laughs] No, what’s like a lush, rich rain for—

PF No, you’re not gonna do any better than plateau [plateau] cuz you just hit— it’s flat and you don’t really do anything.

RZ God it’s depressing.

PF Yeah! I know!

RZ Like are they named plateaus?

PF [In low tone, under breath] Uh probably. I don’t know.

RZ Alright let’s just call this new company Plateau. Plateau it’s 2280, the year 2280.

PF It doesn’t even have to be.

RZ Plateau has opened up a contest, they are looking for a second continent to put their [laughing and Paul laughs] to put their headquarters.

PF [Laughs boisterously] Because they’ve over the first.

RZ They’ve taken over the first, there’s no room left in what it turns out to be North America because Plateau, by the way, was founded in Canada [laughs boisterously].

[21:48]

PF Right. I’m just wondering what Plateau— at a certain point you’re gonna have robots just to stock all the factories and do all the farming.

RZ Yeah, of course!

PF But I mean what are we doing?

RZ Well, farming now is— did you hear about this? It’s like if you use like . . . the stuff’s floatin’ in water and shit.

PF That’s rice.

RZ What is it called? Hy— no.

PF Hydroponic.

RZ [With Paul] Hydroponic.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ You can like in— in ten square feet you could feed a village of— you’ll make enough lettuce for like a whole village.

PF That’s sounds absolutely like it must be the answer to everything.

RZ It is! So anyway Plateau decided—

PF [Crosstalk] Honestly, we’re all gonna be working on um seawall building and global warming amelioration and then we’ll just count on Plateau to deliver all the food.

RZ ‘Rest in peace, shopping cart’ is the first slogan of Plateau.

PF That’s right and then it was—

RZ Cuz all they did was tape shit all over you.

PF Then it was, ‘Rest in peace, coastal populations.’ [Both laugh] And then it was ‘Rest in peace, western capitalism.’ And now we work for Plateau.

[22:44]

RZ [Crosstalk] ‘Rest in peace, general immune system of the body.’

PF That’s right. ‘Rest in peace, welcome to your raft habitat, Plateau!’

RZ Alright this is a more cynical view that I’m trying to [trails off].

PF Ok, lemme— let’s just finish up here because what I wanna ask you is, there is a part me of me that thinks, “Ok, 25— it’s hard to hire good, talented, engineers, product managers, and designers in New York City.” [Yes] Postlight is a firm that survives only because we are able to hire those people.

RZ And we would love [laughing] to welcome Amazon to Long Island City.

PF And it’s gonna take 25,000 of them out of the ecosystem.

RZ Yeah. Um—

PF Is that— do you think that— what do you think? I mean, then again, I’m sitting here and we’ve got, you know, Google and Facebook and they’ve— they’ve got tens of thousands of people.

RZ You know what? Um.

PF I think it’s a different world.

RZ Also, people love New York City, man.

PF Yeah.

RZ I mean if you said to an engineer who’s doing well in, you know, University of Texas and looking to relocate to take a great job, you move! Amazon puts you the job offer, you move.

PF Yeah, I will say, too, like this— the equation— I had a 19-year-old come to me for some mentoring not too long ago. Maybe 20. I can’t remember but very nice person. You would’ve met her too but you were out that day. And she was like, “Should I go to the bay?” Or, “Where should I go?” And I was like, “Kinda now, from where things are and where you’re at, you should probably go to the bay. You wanna really get into tech and understand it.” That dynamic is gonna chance cuz you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people working out here and it’s also you’re gonna build a very fluid career if you work for one of the giants in New York City.

[24:16]

RZ And, also, New York City is very conscious of what’s it’s trying to be here like there is a new um—

PF It’s intolerable to us to not own an entire sector in the economy.

RZ No, no, no.

PF It’s just we have to have it.

RZ Yeah, and we find the west coast exhausting, generally speaking.

PF Have you been out to the Roosevelt Island campus yet?

RZ I have not, so we should [you gotta go] tell people. Cornell Tech [yeah] is a new campus that’s being created [yeah]. It’s affiliated to Cornell University.

PF And the Technion in Israel.

RZ That’s right and the Technion in Israel and is on Roosevelt Island which is this kind of bizarre island, god Roosevelt Island is weird.

PF Roosevelt Island actually is the Seattle of— of Queens.

RZ Yeah [laughs]. It’s a strip of island that sits next to Manhattan [yeah] in the city. It’s actually very close. They’ve built a campus tech focused on tech.

PF But it is— it’s like, you know how the uh when they split up Germany and there were all these species that thrived in the little zone between East and West Germany.

RZ Is that true?

PF Yeah, the DMZ cuz nothing could go in there!

RZ Oh, right, right, right.

PF You know so a certain kind of like deer or wheatgrass or I don’t know what the hell but like it would survive there.

RZ Cuz nobody’s there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

PF That’s Roosevelt Island.

[25:23]

RZ It’s a little weird. So New York City is— is trying to be a tech epicenter. I mean that’s a real— real goal.

PF Yeah I know but when you go out there and god bless it, it’s beautiful but it looks— it’s just like if— if Michael Bloomberg built a moonbase that’s what it looks like [yeah]. It’s just that sort of park architecture and [yeha] everything’s landscapes. Uh that’s what they’re doing to Governor’s Island now too and everything has the word Bloomberg on it.

RZ [Small sigh] You know—

PF So does the city. Everything in this city. Every napkin.

RZ The city’s called Bloomberg.

PF Yeah.

RZ Yeah. There’s a lot of napkins and mugs.

PF Yeah it’s a lot of Bloomberg in this world.

RZ Yes. I wanna close it out with a question to you, Paul.

PF Ok.

RZ Are you happy . . . that Amazon is coming to Long Island City—

PF [Chuckling] I thought you were gonna stop right there: “Are you happy?!?”

RZ That’s another podcast.

PF Um. Yeah. Here’s where I’m at in my life, Rich. You know the serenity prayer.

RZ I don’t know what that it.

PF “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Now it’s very, very famous, particularly cuz it gets applied by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous. Like it’s a big—

RZ It’s a pretty good way to live.

[26:24]

PF I have a lot of opinions about technology. I love technology. I am sort of a lapsed humanist or a lapsed technologist, depending on the day, I don’t have control over what Amazon is doing.

RZ You have control as to whether you want it next day or second day.

PF That is the— you know, basically my opinion of Amazon right now is—

RZ A lepping [laughs].

PF Yeah it’s also like—

RZ [Laughs] Your shipping options.

PF “Alexa, what are my orders?” “Alexa, tell me how to be.” Like I mean it just— these are giant— you’re— you’re asking me what is my opinion on the weather like this is just a huge, vast, capitalist blast that is about to show up. Here’s what I really think: Amazon is probably a little too big to be good for society. So that part’s tricky. But that’s a very big conversation. Second: I’m really excited to see what the full blast Jeff Bezos brain factory when you drop it in the middle of the [chuckling] most corrupt uh real estate environment in— in America [Rich laughs]. Like those two worlds colliding because whereas everyone else and, you know, I feel this way, even crystal city like everyone else sees Amazon maybe in these kind of— as like a giant parasite. Nothing beats New York City’s ability to extract money from human beings.

RZ God bless.

PF Yeah, I mean, it’s just we’re here now and we’re pretty good and we’re on the other side of it but this place is like a giant like a million ticks are about to land on everybody’s neck.

RZ Yeah. You gotta know how to play here.

PF Ooh!

RZ Yeah.

PF And I’m sure they’re like, “Oh, we do. Don’t worry. We’re Amazon! We got— we have native guides.”

RZ Ah they know what they’re getting into.

PF I know but the native guides will turn on you at key moments, right? [Yeha] It’ll be like, “Oh Sandy’s great, man, she is really landing us these— these square feet.”

[28:06]

RZ I think it’s a know your place. Right? Like I think, you know, Google’s not gonna come here and be the— be the— be the guy.

PF Google’s actually growing like 20— [I know but—] 20,000 people but quietly.

RZ Google’s not changing New York City.

PF No, they don’t want to.

RZ And they don’t want to and neither will Amazon. Frankly.

PF No, that is the thing. I mean there’s— it’s a brick in the ocean. It’s not— it’s not—

RZ It’s— I mean New York City is just it’s New York City. I mean honestly look where they landed. It’s, again, I don’t mean this in a— in a demeaning way. They’re gonna be in Queens.

PF Yeah! That’s nice.

RZ Jackson Heights and—

PF Oh and if you love— if you love tennis, there’s nothing better.

RZ Think of all those tickets, dude. The prices for the US Open it’s gonna be a train wreck.

PF That and real estate and also the fact that they’re gonna drop themselves in the middle of the place with the larging public housing facility in— in America.

RZ Right nearby.

PF The Queensbridge houses, yeah. So it’s like there’s a— this is the part that we never talk about, right? Like there’s a lot of people who are just trying to get by [yeah] and then you’re gonna drop 25,000 people named Chad and Stacey.

RZ [Sucks teeth] Uh the halo effect of that could create a lot of jobs, even outside of professional employment.

PF Well this is where I get paranoid and you get optimistic.

[29:14]

RZ I just think, you know, if you’ve put— put some money together for a, you know, a— a food stand or, you know, a food truck or— or even a— like just one of those coffee boxes that are out there, you could have an army of people flowing there. Like I mean they licensed the street corners and whatnot. I just think there’s opportunity there. Uh and— and—

PF Well th— Listen. There’s no doubt opportunity is there.

RZ Yeah!

PF But there’s also just this place and now we’re going deep, right? This is a corrupt city and things tend to get— a lot of things flow to people who already have power and not a lot of things flow to people who are trying to get by.

RZ Don’t hang that on New York City.

PF No. It’s true. It’s in now way just New York City.

RZ That’s the world.

PF So, anyway, if you need services uh and software [Rich guffaws] development in New York City [Rich laughing, Paul chuckling], you should definitely check out Postlight um despite the fact that I’m a, you know, [music fades in] that I’m occasionally a crypto-socialist, we will build a great platform for you with all the transactions necessary [yeah]. We use Amazon web services liberally.

RZ We do. We like AWS and um—

PF This industry turns you into an absolute hypocrite. There’s no way around it.

RZ Uh I—

PF No, cuz it’s like I hated— I hated Microsoft for years and now I’m just like, “Yeah. Ok. I love Microsoft.”

RZ Yeah. Well you don’t have to be a hypocrite if you— if you make the right choices to begin with, Paul.

PF [Chuckles] Well that’s— that’s something I will never, ever do which [Paul laughing boisterously] is why I’m here in business with you. Um so anyway, we’re at [email protected], we love to build things, and we love to complain about technology. So those are the two things that are— are looking— you’re looking at, uh this is the place to— to get in touch with.

RZ Yes and I’m proud to say, Paul, by the way, that we service some of the biggest non-profits in the world [mm hmm] and—

PF Some of the biggest profits.

RZ Some of the biggest profits in the world.

PF No, I mean this is the great part about living in this city is you— you just— you hustle.

RZ See it all.

PF Yeah, you do and so um anyway get in touch: [email protected] Let us know what you think about Amazon’s HQ2 or HQ like 1.5, I guess.

RZ I thought it was HQ squared, by the way—

PF Yeah, I don’t know—

RZ But it’s not.

PF Uh that’s hard to do in CSS. Anyway, whatever you need, [email protected] We’re here to help you.

RZ Have a great week.

PF Bye [music ramps up, plays alone for four seconds, fades out to end].