Miami Mayor Francis Suarez speaks to the media during the annual hurricane drill at the Emergency Operations Center for the City of Miami on May 29, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was just leaving lunch at tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s home and was on his way back to City Hall when he received a text from an unknown number.
The person was polite, wanted to catch up with him and congratulate him on a job well done, so Suarez asked who he was talking to, to whom he was “David B.” got back. Suarez didn’t really clarify anything and replied, “Last name?”
It was David Beckham.
Suarez’s schedule and phone have been blown since he accidentally launched a Twitter campaign to make Miami the newest innovation hub in early December when someone on the app suggested bringing Silicon Valley to the Sunshine State. His “How can I help?” The reaction alone produced 2.3 million organic impressions, he says.
“It gave me the push and the energy and the incentive to keep tweeting and socializing very quickly,” said Suarez. He had 27 million impressions in December, and he saw a strong payout from folks hailing from the Bay Area and the east coast.
Suarez has been working to spark a technology boom in Miami for more than a decade, on the grounds that doing so could bring higher-paying jobs to Miami residents and put the city at the forefront of innovation and technology in the years to come.
Typically, tech workers and investors stay in San Francisco or New York City because they are important office hubs. But the coronavirus pandemic opened up remote working as an opportunity for dozens of people. Many left their respective cities in search of cheaper rents, more space, and a chance to cut taxes a little.
Now venture capital influencers and Silicon Valley elite like Keith Rabois, who had just left the Bay Area, have jumped on Twitter to put their new home in the spotlight.
After Rabois announced his move to Miami, Suarez tweeted him congratulating him on the move, and the two linked for the first time.
“People are just happy here. At the end of the day you meet people and they smile. In San Francisco that’s just not true,” Rabois said in an interview on Wednesday.
“I’ve had more meetings in Miami in two weeks than in the past 10 months. Founders, CEOs, investors, mutual email intros, new connections. Everyone’s down here,” said Benjamin Kosinski, an investor, this week on Twitter.
“His recruiting interview worked for me – MIA in the spring,” another person said of Suarez on Twitter. “Books are being written about what @FrancisSuarez and @rabois are doing to make Miami the tech city of the 1920s. The switch flipped and it happened almost overnight.” Suarez told CNBC that he often hears the topic from founders, who are fed up with tax policies, the high cost of living and feeling like they’re not welcome in their cities.
“I’m like, ‘How can I help?’ Tweet was kind of a earth-shattering moment because people said, “Oh, finally, an elected official who gets it,” who understands that businesses that create wealth and create high-paying jobs benefit a city, “Suarez said Thursday .
South Beach, Florida
Leslie Josephs | CNBC
Some companies even give incentives to people who move. Start-up Eight Sleep sells an “intelligent” mattress that measures the quality of sleep and regulates the temperature accordingly. The company recently partnered with Suarez to offer a 20% discount to tech founders, investors and employees who moved to Miami in early 2021.
“Twitter is a big part of why I’m excited and why I even think about it,” says Amanda Goetz, who runs a CBD company called House of Wise and plans to move to Miami this summer. “The mayor is a marketer at heart. He knew how to build a product that people want and need,” he added, adding that there was almost a fear of missing out.
She pointed to both the founders of Eight Sleep, who had moved out of New York, and tech investor Anthony Pompliano, who told his 458,000+ Twitter followers that he was moving from New York to Miami for a few months .
Goetz normally lives in New York City but has ridden the coronavirus pandemic in Charlotte, North Carolina with her three children, all under the age of 7. The original plan was to spend a year in Charlotte and go back to town, but that plan derailed in December when other founders began migrating to Miami. Goetz said until the pandemic was over, she saw little use in returning to a small apartment in New York, especially since most of her friends had left town.
Rabois was vocal about his contempt for the current business climate in San Francisco, describing it as overregulated and overwhelmed. He said he looked at a handful of cities like Phoenix and Denver, but Miami won over him with its weather and culture. Rabois said all he had to do now was convince people to stay a week and they would commit to getting property in the area.
“That happens left and right, this is not an isolated example. I’ve literally had three in the last week,” he said. There’s also the appeal of not having an income tax, although Rabois said that wasn’t his main reason for moving there. “Miami was sluggish, we were able to create a little momentum, to build it up for the most part [Suarez’s] Skills and now it’s speeding up, “he said.
Suarez said his job now is to keep the city’s newest residents there. “We try to keep the volume up and understand that we caught the nation’s attention and we want to keep it.”