Each week, Kevin Roose, technology columnist at The New York Times, discusses developments in the tech industry, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.
Hi, pals. I’m Kevin. I’m a columnist here at The Times, and I’ll be filling in for Farhad and Mike on this newsletter while they’re both “out on book leave.” (Read: tweeting and playing Fortnite in their PJs.) Mostly, I write about Silicon Valley and how technology interacts with the larger worlds of business and culture.
Today, though, I want to talk about the Midwest.
This week, I published a column about a recent trip I took through the Midwest with a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. The three-day tour, which was organized by Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, took us to cities like Akron, Ohio, and South Bend, Ind., and gave the investors a chance to meet local officials and case out nontraditional start-up scenes.
One of my main lessons from the trip was that a lot of Silicon Valley’s elite have gotten fed up with the Bay Area for various reasons (housing prices, tech monoculture, too much money chasing too few start-ups, etc.), and are looking enviously at other parts of the country. Which I thought was a pretty obvious and uncontroversial take!
But the response to the piece has been, uh, opinionated. Some readers took issue with the headline (“Silicon Valley Is Over, Says Silicon Valley”) and the way the coastal investors interviewed in the piece seemed to view cities like Flint and Detroit as if they were exotic foreign countries with quirky, charming customs. Others, like Axios’ Dan Primack, doubted whether the venture capitalists on the bus were really going to relocate, or if they were just indulging in idle fantasy. And a few asked if I could bring the venture capitalists to their city next time. (I hear your pleas, Pike County, Ill.!)
As a native Ohioan, I’m always delighted when people want to talk about my home region. (I have a lot of feelings about Steak ’n Shake and…
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