September 9, 2013

We’re all Bozos on this Google Bus

We thought about bringing up the Google Gossip about Sergey leaving his wife for Google Glass Gal, but we thought better of it. Nothing more predictable than yet another dude with too much money having a midlife crisis and discovering the joys of a relationship with a younger woman.  Instead, we bring you a different Google story, which is actually real-estate related.

Mapping Silicon Valley’s Gentrification Problem Through Corporate Shuttle Routes

20130908-googlebus-mapBY ERIC RODENBECK, Wired Magazine
09.06.13 9:30 AM

Digital flows of information and the capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical landscape.

Here’s an ironic thing: I spend a good part of my day designing maps and data visualizations that represent change, while working out of one of the most change-resistant corners in the city of San Francisco.

For the past dozen or so years, the 16th and Mission Street BART plaza below the studio where we work has steadfastly hosted a diverse, rotating cast of characters — from drug dealers and preachers to musicians and hipsters, cheek by jowl with families, social activists, Social Security poets (sadly a shrinking population), and, increasingly but haltingly, young workers in the great technology fields to the south.

It’s proven a remarkably resilient situation: It was this way when I watched it in 2001, at the nadir of the dot-com crash. And it’s this way in 2013, at the mid-point of what some are calling the next big tech boom, the bastard love child of late 1990s Delusion 1.0. Yet the city is just bursting with change these days, if construction is an indicator. When I look out my window, I see at least nine active construction cranes at any given time (and that number would be even higher if it weren’t for the new scaffolding blocking my view of the rest of the city).

Neighborhoods that just 10 years ago were once written off as un-developable are seeing barriers to change break down every day. Why? It’s tough to point to a single cause, but it seems abundantly clear that digital flows of information and the attendant capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical urban landscape.

130908-googlebus-posterNow, the title above is completely off the mark.  This article isn’t in any way about Silicon Valley’s gentrification problem.  It’s about San Francisco’s gentrification problem because of those high paying jobs in Silicon Valley.  You would never know from reading the Wired piece that there are “Google buses” all throughout Silicon Valley and its exurbs, not just running various SF to Mountain View routes.  We’ve seen the luxury shuttle buses in San Ramon, in Los Gatos, and in Scotts Valley.  Every one of those buses means the employees onboard are not driving their own vehicles to work, and they are free to come up with brilliant ideas during the commute thanks to onboard WiFi.

They’re also free to play video poker, just like hardworking Senator John McCain.  And like Senators, taking private shuttle buses insulates tech workers from having to deal with ordinary people on public transit. You would be amazed at all the resentment there is toward the Google buses.  Maybe it’s because all those highly-paid tech workers are driving up rents and sales prices, forcing everyone else to move to the East Bay.

Meanwhile, in order to figure out the unpublished list of private shuttle bus stops, Wired had to hire a bunch of bike messengers to follow the buses… and scribble notes on paper.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am

August 4, 2012

Does Your Refrigerator Match Your Smartphone?

If it doesn’t, it’s time to chuck your fridge.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for passing along this fascinating article.

So Long, Stainless: Whirlpool Introduces a New Finish For Premium Kitchens


By Keith Barry, July 18, 2012, Refrigerator Info

120803-fridge-white-iceThe stainless steel appliance hegemony has ended.

On Monday, Whirlpool introduced a new premium exterior finish that they call “White Ice.” With clean lines, silver accents and streamlined controls, the new collection’s refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and microwave are a departure from the flash and glitz of stainless steel and its many lookalikes. In fact, the combination of a white finish, stainless handles and mirrored glass appear to have a lot in common with Apple’s popular design language.

The streamlined new look combines with simplified features that Whirlpool says will make the appliances easier to use. “In addition to the intuitive technology, the line takes a fresh look at appliance design and features flawless exteriors that add beauty to any home,” said Pat Schiavone, Whirlpool’s VP of Global Consumer Design.

120803-fridge-apple-storeHere’s why nomadic sent along a clipping from Refrigerator Info (and I do not want to ask why any Burbed reader would also be checking out that site).

You can be the first real estate blog to report the death of stainless!  No more pergranisteel…

And the inspiration is coming from Silicon Valley!

Yes, this is going to look just great in all those new white kitchens with the emphasis on wood rather than a wall of stainless steel.  Because if your kitchen doesn’t look like a foodie version of an Apple Store, then you’re obviously still living in 2001.

Which is when the first Apple Store opened.

Update: The Sunday piece is a thinky one, so deposit your open thread comments here.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

April 15, 2012

The Worst Company in America is in the Bay Area!

120413-consumerist-mastheadLast year was an exciting March Madness playoff leading to a nail-biter of a final playoff.  Which was the Worst Company in America?  Was it BP, which destroyed an entire ecosystem, or was it Bank of America, which merely melted down an economy?

Those who voted for second-place B of A may have been hoping for another chance this year, but there’s a new Winner (and by that I mean Loser) in town.  According to the 2012 March playoffs hosted by The Consumerist, the worst company in America is… drumroll please… EA!

And EA was not content to merely ignore this ignominious achievement.  Nooooo!  EA, showing that the voters knew damned well what they were doing, actually made this stupefyingly ill-suited statement:

We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.

120413-consumerist-eaBP wasn’t even in the running this year because they won last year in a very closely contested contretemps. But Bank of America was back, of course.  And once more B of A (it stands for Bunch of A’**holes) failed to “survive” the final death match.

Also, AIG won in 2009 and Halliburton won the very first WCIA contest in 2006.

Other Bay Area companies nominated for this dubious honor include:

120413-netflixNetflix, who lost its first match against GameStop.  This one was a blowout final sale.

120413-wellsWells Fargo also failed to advance when it was locked in the vault by CitiCorp.

120413-googleGoogle similarly lost its maiden match to Apple by 404.

120413-appleBut Apple shouldn’t get a swelled AirBook over the experience, as it was easily short-circuited 2 to 1 by AT&T.

120413-paypalPayPal was knocked out in the quarter finals by WalMart in a Photoshop finish. But PayPal got that far by defaulting on CapitalOne in a walkover, and similarly slammed the receiver down hard on Charter.

120413-facebookFacebook had a much stronger string of worsts.  It cut the power to Sprint by 4 to 1, and gave the US Postal Service a definitive Return to Sender, before falling to AT&T, who wrote the book on bad service.  Facebook simply didn’t have enough Dislikes. 

120413-eaAT&T was in turn Ctrl-Alt-Deleted by EA, with 3 out of 4 voters gunning for the gaming goon.  EA shut down Sony, closed out Best Buy, and blacked out Comcast to qualify for the semifinal with AT&T.

Which company do you think should have won the WCIA this year?  And which Bay Area companies that weren’t nominated do you think should have been?

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

June 11, 2011

Apple’s New Cupertino HQ Landing in 2015

imageSteve Jobs appeared at Cupertino City Hall to request plan approval for Apple’s striking new headquarters.  Seems they can’t fit all their Cupertino employees at the current HQ over at 280 and De Anza Boulevard, so they want to build a 12,000 person, 4 story building on the site they purchased from Hewlett-Packard.

And it looks like either a spaceship or a giant donut.  Mmmmm, donuts.

Jobs To Cupertino: We Want A Spaceship-Shaped, 12K Capacity Building As Our New Apple Campus

Alexia Tsotsis, TechCrunch, Jun 7, 2011

After having a banner WWDC start yesterday, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs humblypresented his idea for a new Apple campus at the Cupertino City Council today. Jobs wants to build one building that will hold 12,000 Apple employees on a former Hewlett-Packard property in the area between Tantau North Wolfe, Homestead and the 280 freeway.”It’s a little like a spaceship landed,” Jobs says. No kidding.

Jobs began the presentation referring to the fact that Apple is growing “like a weed,” and that its current campus at D’Anza and the 280 isn’t enough — fitting only about 2,800 people. Apple currently rents buildings to house its other 6,700 employees in the area. The new building will augment the current campus.

Paving the way for these plans, Apple purchased about 100 acres from Hewlett Packard in 2010 and added them to the 50 it owns adjacent. Jobs says he has corralled “some great architects … some of the best in the world” to come up with a design that will house 12,000 people in one four story high building on the property. The area is now mainly apricot orchards.

With the futuristic design Apple apparently is relying heavily on its experience building retail stores, and it will be creating one massive piece of curved glass if the proposal goes through. “There’s not a single straight piece of glass in this building,” Jobs says. The parking will be underground.


Here’s the site in question:


I’ve added the street names to the original slide.  Pruneridge will no longer be a through street from San Jose to Wolfe, but will stop at the new Apple campus at Tantau.  This reasonable alternative to 280 will then have traffic joining the fray on Homestead to the north.  But at least I’ll be able to get a parking space at BJ’s when this thing opens.  (Actually I won’t; Jobs says they will still need all the space at Infinite Loop, the current Apple HQ.)


As long as Apple doesn’t introduce an iPhone 5 that electrocutes the user while secretly tweeting photos of his/her crotch, this is a done deal:

“There is no chance that we’re saying no,” insisted [Cupertino Mayor Gilbert] Wong, who started his life with Apple IIs and Apple II +s, “The Mothership has landed in Cupertino.”


Will this make the house with a dragon sell faster with more overbidding?  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am