An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos

This ran as a full page ad in the New York Times today. I signed it along with the top labor leaders in NYC, the top political leaders in NYC, top business execs, and the leaders of NYC’s higher education institutions. I believe it was a mistake by Amazon to pull out of NYC and I very much hope they will reconsider.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    1. i don’t know if it was amazon’s mistake to pull out or NYCs mistake to make them feel unwelcome and their plans untenable.2. why is the letter pitched as a plea? 3 paragraphs of beseechment. why not use it to highlight NYC’s value and Amazon’s loss and not the reverse.3. interesting how when a splash like this needs to be made. Full-page ads in mainstream papers remain the only way to do it.

    1. JamesHRH

      2. One side has the ability to create 25,000 permanent jobs, 11,000 construction jobs & $28B in tax revenue.The other side should beseech like crazy.

      1. Peter Radizeski

        where did the $28B tax revenue number come from? I heard $12B and still thought that was pulled out of thin air.

        1. JamesHRH

          First line of letter?

          1. Peter Radizeski

            Funny but that doesn’t explain where that figure comes from.

          2. JamesHRH

            I have generally heard $25B. I am pretty sure a state or city group has done the accounting,

    2. Richard

      Nothing works as well as a letter in the NYT signed by a group of self appointed elitists who claim to be speaking for the lower middle income New Yorkers.

  2. JoeK

    Any progress getting the local legislators that apparently kibboshed the deal to buy in, and perhaps sign this? It sounds like the letter is repeating ‘page one’ of the original pitch to him, which apparently, was not enough.

  3. andyswan

    Pretty Socialist BTFOGreat letter

    1. Morgan Warstler

      I’ve long thought Bezos HQ2 is about teaching Seattle socialists a lesson. I wonder if he’s committed to that here as well. Not going back to NYC is a great big “don’t get any big ideas” to future AOCs…. why confuse the lesson?

  4. William Mougayar

    That’s a great rebuttal to the public backlash of the past few weeks. I kept looking for Mike Bloomberg’s name but it wasn’t there?

    1. gorbachev

      His financial well being doesn’t depend on Amazon being in NYC.

    2. Salt Shaker

      Bloomberg allegedly wasn’t an advocate. Too many concessions.

      1. William Mougayar

        Hmm. Surprising. He’s usually astute.

      2. fredwilson


    3. Richard

      Anytime the Corporation and Politician get in bed, they are screwing.

    4. fredwilson

      he is working this through other avenues

  5. awaldstein

    I love that today, a full page add in the NY Times is still such a powerful message board.I like the letter a great deal as well.

    1. JamesHRH

      It’s like Twitter, no one actually sees it in the Times!

  6. John Lowery

    While it’s possible they weren’t asked to sign, it’s interesting to see these names all missing from the signature block: Jamie Dimon, Glenn Hubbard, Henry Kravis and (as William points out below) Michael Bloomberg.

    1. JamesHRH

      Dimon & Kravis are finance goons. They don’t care.

  7. TamiMForman

    Let’s hope this works! signed, longtime Queens resident

  8. curtissumpter

    This is going to be a war.

  9. Arden Klemmer

    First time caller. While I concede that many of the arguments against Amazon were misinformed, I don’t think they were misguided.I fear that a lot of folks who work in VC and tech (and who interact mostly with other people who work in VC and tech) don’t appreciate what is lost when a poor neighborhood becomes a magnet for 20-to-40-somethings with lots of disposable income. Renting families get pushed out. 50 year old establishments are shut down and renovated to look like some version of this:…I’ve lived in Denver, San Francisco, Austin, DC… and when tech moves in it culturally overwhelms a city. NYC has thus far been immune to that because it has so many flourishing industries (fashion, finance, art, food, etc etc).I believe that smaller, diverse companies can take advantage of opportunity zones over time and benefit the residents of those neighborhoods… but Amazon would have been a homogeneous wash out, and I’m glad the people of LIC were empowered to say no thanks.

    1. JamesHRH

      Your last sentence is not supported by any evidence that I have seen.This has been hashed out here before, but a major success is key to growing a new industry sector in a region.NYC progressives have selfishly, cynically and stupidly just rebuffed the most dynamic innovation based company in the history of humanity. They just X’d out a chance to make NYC one of the leading tech hubs on the planet.The folks who currently live in LIC would have faced change but all opportunity requires change.Comment more!

      1. Arden Klemmer

        NYC is well positioned to remain one of the leading economic forces on the planet – with a solid tech sector. I guess where we disagree is that I don’t believe NYC should aim to be one of the leading tech hubs on the planet. I’m looking at this from a more human pov. I want the people who live in and serve the neighborhood to have some control over what happens to their neighborhood. 1,000 public school employees were going to be displaced to accommodate the new HQ. Ok they were planning to find them a new location to work… but what has happened historically when public servants are moved to new locations? It’s like telling someone you’re going to change their health care. No one predicts a positive change. I can’t help but feel like this was a big win for the people of LIC. Yes, Amazon is amazing and innovative, but it is also abusive. It’s pretty cool that the school teachers, social workers, renters, labor workers etc were able to come together strong enough to have a voice to counter the most dynamic innovation based company in the history of humanity.

        1. JamesHRH

          Had drinks last night with two people looking to relocate to America. Literally doing a tour of major US centres: highly educated, professional folks.Economic diversity was a main issue they had prioritized & Houston was high on their list. NYC was not.People who value stasis and security ( I.e., government employees ) should never make long term decisions for others. Change is the only constant.I applaud your support for these people that you feel would bear the brunt of the Amazon HQ impact. But it’s still a bad decision for NYC.Western democracies are failing because people do not do what is in the common good: they vote ( if they vote ) as a narcissistic form of self expression of their values, not in the best interests of their communities.It will hasten the fall.

          1. Arden Klemmer

            Houston is a good choice! Warm all year, diverse, you can buy a beautiful house for $300K, and Beyoncé is from there.Been a pleasure disagreeing with you – signing off til next time!

          2. leigh

            @jameshrh i wasn’t able to reply to a post from a month ago about female founders so dammit i’m going to at least give you my first line from my response out of context here — “I don’t think it was the reason it failed but it definitely contributed to it not having a chance to succeed.”

          3. JamesHRH

            I am sure we are going to struggle to agree here, but I am a big believer that personality drives philosophy and philosophy drives interests and actions.Which makes this tweet relevant but your gender not, IMHO. That being said, there are tons of close minded weak idiots on the planet:I have been brought into to help some 2s. Way worse than figuring out that the entrepreneur is lacking the basic abilities of confidence or business acumen.Three types of business ideas:1- bad idea.2- “good idea but I’m the wrong person to do it”3- “good idea and I’m the 100% right person to do it”The 2’s are so painful.— Michael Girdley (@mgirdley) February 25, 2019 <script async=”” src=”…” charset=”utf-8″></script>

      2. Lance

        I’d be interested in the evidence that supports your statement of Amazon being the “most dynamic innovation based company in the history of humanity”. If you need evidence of businesses within a NY neighborhood who have provided goods and services for 50 years being pushed out by other businesses, see any block in Manhattan over the last 15 years.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Exactly. If you haven’t lived in a nyc neighborhood that’s gone through massive gentrification, and subsequently exhorbitant increases in commercial rents and housing, then stand on the sideline. Yes, one can call it progress, but neighborhoods have character that isn’t always measured in dollars and cents. The fabric of LIC would have been ruined, along w/ displacement of those who currently live in one of the few remaining areas of affordable housing in NYC. That said, one of my biggest beefs with LIC is the location. The planned buildout is sandwiched between the 59th Street Bridge and the LIE (495), areas already massively congested. This would have created an even greater transportation nightmare, with no infrastructure solutions to address it. You can only squeeze so much into a given area.

          1. Lance

            Yes! Many would say gentrification and rising rents has hastened the fall of NYC….from the many people I’ve spoken to about this who have lived in the city for more than 10 years. Drug retailers and banks on every corner does not a great city make. More glass towers, more Starbucks, more Walgreens, almost no Mom and Pops left. I’m working at a startup with a satellite office in Gowanus, and it reminds me of the NYC of old out here. It’s very refreshing.

          2. JamesHRH

            Subjective definition of great.Taxes are the blood of a city. Increasing the tax base is an objective predictor of future health.

        2. JamesHRH

…Arden’s last sentence speaks to groups of people coming together to ……. there is no evidence that says this happened. Opportunistic, cynical progressive pols calm together. Surveys show the people of LIC did not.

    2. Guy Lepage

      >I’m glad the people of LIC were empowered to say no thanks.I actually live in LIC. That was not what people were saying. Trust me. The high majority of people wanted Amazon to come to NYC. Please do not let a very small number of people who were looking for attention to washout the facts.

      1. Salt Shaker

        Okay, you’re someone in the know. Explain to me how adding 25K jobs to an area that is already massively congested (between 59th St Bridge and 495 (LIE) is a good idea? Look at the daily bottleneck at Queens Blvd and Northern Blvd. Look at the traffic at Van Dam Street going North to South, and vice versa. It’s already a nightmare…every, single day! How is adding that many people and subsequent services possibly a good idea? There is no infrastructure solution. Why do you think Bezos wanted a helipad? (Note: He doesn’t have one in Seattle.) Serious Q for you.

        1. Guy Lepage

          Sure. Some people would literally walk to work as they would choose to live in LIC. I barely go into Manhattan anymore. It’s gorgeous here and with all the new buildings it will be even nicer.I would also assume more people would choose to live in other parts.Lastly the traffic in Queens itself is not that bad at all. I used to live in Seattle and LA. This is not that bad.>There is no infrastructure solution. Why do you think Bezos wanted a helipad?That’s something for the city to build out. And as a citizen everyone should push local officials for that with all the new tax dollars over time.

          1. Salt Shaker

            <“I barely go into Manhattan any more.”Understood. That’s a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands pass through your hood daily either heading east or into Manhattan. It’s a nightmare every single day. There is no way around it, and an Amazon build out will only make it that much worse. I know those roads like the back of my hand. (Manhattanite for 30+ years). I live in downtown Seattle now. People bitch about the traffic buildup on Mercer heading into I-5. An Amazon creation, allegedly. That traffic is nothing compared to the traffic running through LIC right now, without any buildout. I’m all about job creation, my prob is w/ that location specifically.

          2. Guy Lepage

            I mean… Most of LIC is abandoned buildings and barren land. Are you sure, you’re talking about LIC?

          3. Salt Shaker

            That’s between the Bridge and 495. You can’t access or leave without encountering those two extremities. Been to MOMA PS1 countless times. Had a regular weekly tennis gig in LIC too. Grew up out East, been heading to Manhattan via those roads since I was 15. I know the area well, including the 7, N, R trains. This isn’t about vacant land or an abandoned warehouse. This is about infrastructure and taxing what’s already quite thinly stretched. It’s not about just walking to work. Most won’t. Curious, do you have a car? My hunch is you don’t.

        2. Richard

          NYC – still thinks it is the NYC of 1975 – when it needed to kneel to companies to locate there. It needs to grow a backbone! It’s the richest city in the US -Amazon should have paid them to locate there.

      2. Arden Klemmer

        I used to live in Greenpoint and I have spent a lot of time in LIC (Tournesol is my favorite restaurant in NY). I have friends who live and work in LIC… I know some people welcomed Amazon, but many many people did not. Calling them a “small number of people looking for attention” is dismissive and inaccurate. Also we’re talking about a group of people who are in general disempowered and vulnerable. How many school teachers are in your circle? Social workers? People with children who make under $60K? Strike up a conversation with the family that runs the nearest bodega and just listen for a while.

        1. Guy Lepage

          That is just not true. I am sorry. Living close to LIC is not living here.

        2. April Johnson

          This. ^ ^ ^Again, Fred Wilson, I’m asking you to listen.

    3. Richard

      Yep, the effects were less noticeable when economic displacement took place in the suburbs. The last 30 years has seen it take place in urban centers that were racillay diverse middle income cities in the 50s-90s.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Great to hear a new voice here.

  10. Pointsandfigures

    My guess is that the ship has sailed. DeBlasio’s comments post pulling out were not particularly helpful. They have already announced their alternative. Beef up other operations, and expand in Nashville which is in a state with a friendly business environment. I am seeing small companies move out of states like Illinois for friendly states. This article about where millennials really want to move is interesting and counter intuitive…Chicago just had an election. 5 socialists are in the running to join the city council to join a couple of others that are there. Both mayoral candidates are pretty hard left. It’s not the way forward, and not the way to create jobs which people need. Socialism has never worked anywhere, is responsible for millions of deaths and lots of missed opportunity.

    1. JamesHRH

      When Jeff drops you, you stay dropped. And, if they sweeten the pot, progressives freak. Totally screwed.Outrage politics is overtaking identity politics as the leading source of unthinking threats to democracy. Socialism is the symptom, not the cause. Losers being leveraged by deeply evil, cynical pols like AOC.As an aside, if you are wondering what happens when an AOC style, narcissistic, superficial, identity / shame based politician with a strategy wizard who is New Green Dealy takes over your modern western democracy…’s your answer:

    2. DJL

      If you watch the mainstream media – you would never know about the total failure of socialism and how it abuses its people. When nuts like Bernie run around with huge megaphones promoting socialism – there is absolutely no challenge from the media. They just lap it up like dogs. Of course, once Socialism takes hold, you are either the state-run media or dead. It is a true shame that young people are not taught the basic folly of socialism and communism.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Of course, broadly I agree with you. But in the current political mud wrestling between left/right and Democrat/Republican, IMHO there two big mistakes being made:(1) Shooting against all of socialism without being more specific will have a tough time winning for two reasons:(A) A lot that is now accepted as moderate, middle of the road, stuff was not so many decades ago called socialism or from self-identified socialists, in the US, Scandenavia, Switzerland, Canada, etc. So, if shoot at all of what has been called socialism, then will shoot at a lot of moderate stuff that too many people like. So, when are against socialism, have to be a little careful, say, specific, what are shooting at. Not all of socialism, in particular, not all the ideas they have, are as bad as Cuba, Venezuela, Mao’s China, Stalin, etc. Yes, generally having government do more often wastes money, gives results less good than we should be able to get with more moderate approaches, and is pushed by a lot of people because of their hidden agenda of political power and to heck with the harm done. Okay — to push back, be specific: E.g., point out how passenger trains in the US have a super tough time meeting even the old legal cost-benefit criteria.(B) A lot of people can like freebies; as bad at they usually are, a lot of people can vote for them. To counter that, have to formulate good responses; just shooting at socialism broadly won’t be effective.(2) Currently as Trump makes progress in various respects, I hear Hannity and others associated with Fox touting conservatism. I regard this as a huge mistake for two reasons:(A) It looks like the conservatives have been back in the woodwork since Goldwater, have been waiting for the right time to come out, and have concluded that now is the time! Hannity is claiming with glee that Trump is a conservative. This glee is a slap in the face of everyone else, including a lot of Republicans and essentially all moderates. This push, praise for conservatism, as a general principle, even in cases when it’s the good and right thing to do, is a huge mistake: There is too much in the old history of conservatism that is too close to cruel, brutal, inhumane, dog eat dog and may the devil take the hindmost. Instead, should take the issues one at a time, try to solve the practical problem without waste, invasion of privacy, abridging human rights, etc.(B) For POTUS, the real conservatives have no one to vote for except Trump, and if they vote for Trump likely they should also vote for Republicans Trump endorses — else are likely throwing a vote away. So, be moderate, get the moderates, get some of the Democrats, if AOC, Fauxcahontas, Gillibrand, Kamala, and Booker keep talking, then get a lot of Democrats, and, still, the conservatives have no other place to go.Too often it looks like the conservatives and a lot of Republicans are too eager to believe they have to lose, stand for their hard principles, piss off everyone else, and go down as martyrs. That’s just another way to lose and be ineffective.

        1. DJL

          The battle for the future of America is the battle between “Conservatism” and “Liberalism”. If we have to change the names to make people happy and win elections, that is fine.As we speak AOC and Pelosi are threatening that anyone who votes moderate will essentially be blackballed.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            AOC has no chance. Socialism like Scandinavia or Canada can win in the US at its fastest only slowly.A lot of conservative ideas can win.But between the two broad areas, conservatism and liberalism, IMHO the results will be mixed but the second will come closer to winning.Everyone, including the conservatives, should just never say conservative; it just has too much of a bad history and too few real devotees. It’s enough to talk about the waste of Governor Moonbeam’s several billion dollar train to nowhere. Don’t say the problem of that train project was socialism or even liberalism; just say that it was wasteful and don’t mention conservatism.

          2. Richard

            The grilling that the CEOs of big Pharma took on capital hill this week was shameful. Socialism is a headwind that is here to stay (until it slows the plane down and peoplenotice). The idea the a CEO making 22 million dollars a year is somehow – unpatriotic – is now an accepted political argument. So now politicians with a strait face can go to a sporting event where the atheletes make $22 million a year and cheer it on and then go back to their stump speech on capital hill is a trend that nobody should ignore.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            > Socialism is a headwind that is here to stay (until it slows the plane down and peoplenotice).Well, apparently there will always be people talking up versions, parts, of socialism. And Nancy/Chucky would rush to enact more if they could — e.g.. as they did with ObamaCare. And nearly all the newsies want to be the propaganda arm of the Democrats, especially the more liberal. Besides the newsies find AOC, Fauxcahontas, and Kamala just irresistible to write about, favorably.For some reason I don’t understand, apparently a lot of politicians feel free to say darned near anything, including really crazy stuff, but not even try to do it. IIRC Pelosi was screaming on impeaching Trump, but now that she’s Speaker she has quieted down on that. Maybe even Maxine Waters has quieted down. Apparently they believe that no one will remember what was said.My guess is that for now the best push back on socialism is to have Trump do well, call him a moderate, never but never say conservatism, even when doing parts of it, and, then, let Trump get all of the Right, who have nowhere else to go, way over half the moderates, and a lot of Democrats — remember, we still have secret ballots.Besides, my view is that Trump really is a moderate. E.g., he’s ready to solve the problem of medical insurance for people with “pre-existing conditions” apparently just by passing a law that makes considering such conditions illegal.The pre-existing conditions issue was big back with Obama. At the time, it appeared that a few wealthy states had such a law and other states either did nothing or put patch on the system. E.g.. someone from Arkansas claimed that they had a state run and funded pool that solved the problem and didn’t even cost very much or some such. I was surprised: My guess was that insuring pre-existing conditions would scare the heck out of insurance companies. Maybe the expensive conditions are so rare that the extra costs are for the rates everyone pays in the dimes and pennies column and no biggie.Trump is overtly protectionist, and that used to be a liberal position, right?The US is now a long way from old, pure free enterprise: So, can’t do predatory marketing! Well, there’s no effective international law against that, so China has been free to read from the US robber baron history and old mercantilism and drive a lot of US business out of business, firing their workers. So, Trump is not a Right wing guy on trade.

          4. DJL

            So if you can’t be Republican or Democrat or Liberal or Conservative – where do you land? I think the label is effective at collecting a certain set of beliefs into a system. Everyone needs a team. Democrats are struggling because leftist-socialists run their team. Republicans struggle because the Establishment Swamp wants no part of Trump. The people lose in both cases.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            For any good ideas, e.g., likely no subsidized passenger trains in the US, try to get the ideas accepted, even if they are conservative.Just don’t use the word conservative — too often it sounds cruel, e.g., don’t help homeless people and just let then die in the streets from freezing, crime, disease, etc.Back in the ObamaCare debate, some of the conservatives were arguing for letting the medical insurance companies force people with pre-existing conditions to pay more, likely pay what the statistics said they should pay. From some of what Trump has stated, apparently that issue is decided — people with pre-existing conditions will pay the same as everyone else and, thus, everyone else will pay at least a little more but also have the comforting feeling that if they get a really expensive illness the insurance companies will still write them insurance at the old rates.That’s a big judgment call. It reaches into the market place and regulates from DC. Some freedom of free enterprise is lost. But, maybe it’s what we should do.E.g., don’t argue for specific ideas based on their being part of “conservative principles”. Selling an idea, e.g., stop Moonbeam’s train to nowhere, is tough enough. If have first to sell “conservative principles’ and only second argue against that train, then that’s much more to sell.For a word, in public, just say Republican or for at least the next six years say Trump Republican.Then have a MUCH better chance beating Nancy/Chucky, Booker, “I believe Dr. Ford” Kamala, Gillibrand, have a wealth tax Fauxcahontas, wack-o AOC, actual socialist Bernie.

  11. DJL

    This is what happens when ignorant radicals like AOC become media darlings. Their voices are amplified way beyond the reason of their message.I hope you and NYC have some success with this. It is a shame. But I believe the Liberal politics of NYC caught up with itself. I am hoping the same leaders who signed this document become more aware of the messages that NY politics sends to the US and try to learn from this.

    1. David Spiva

      If you’re going to try to tear down the people you disagree with, you might want to pick a different way to do it than saying they’re ignorant.Even if you disagree with her, AOC is certainly not ignorant.Just watch videos of when she has the floor in Congress, she knows how to cut to the bone and spill the facts.In fact, thinking she’s ignorant, is it’s own kind of ignorance.

      1. Pointsandfigures

        Anyone that believes in socialism as a path forward given the evidence of history is probably pretty ignorant. The Green New Deal was another example of her lack of ability to critically think.

        1. Salt Shaker

          What exactly is “socialism”? I’m not sure there is a finite definition. It’s a moving target. Is Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, etc., all still considered socialism by today’s standards. Will staunch critics of socialism decline Medicare coverage when they turn 65, for example? I don’t think so. Are all forms of socialism “radical”? Aren’t there countries that create/have good balance we can learn from? We paint far too many things today w/ such a broad brush.

      2. Richard

        Seriously ? Have you read the orgifibal new green deal? have you seen her one one interviews this past year? AOCs appearance in the subcommittee was simply reading the taking points of her handlers.

      3. DJL

        Wow. An economist who doesn’t understand the basics of tax incentives. A person who proposed the banning of all air travel and not eating red meat to reduce global warming. Sorry, she is about as dumb as they get.

      4. JamesHRH

        If she is not ignorant, then she’s aware of the catastrophic impact of her policies / behaviours.That’s worse – it’s conscious evil,

        1. David Spiva

          Oh no, no one ever denied that.It’s clear, those policies are quiet catastrophic and she’s quiet the villain.Quiet catastrophic and quiet villainous for Amazon and co that is.The rest of her NY constituency are just going to have to get through their meager lives leaving under the terror of stable housing opportunities, lawmakers uncoerced by wealthy interlopers, and local businesses that pay taxes on a regular basis.

  12. Homero

    You think they care if people want them there or not? They obviously changed their mind because of something that came up.If they wanted to be there they would be.

  13. Tom Labus

    It could work!Maybe AMZN can share some plans for the area and host some walking/talking tours also as we turn to Spring.

  14. Salt Shaker

    Just a theory: I think there’s a lot more to Amazon pulling out of LIC, and I’m not referring to politics. I think it’s biz related. Amazon just announced they’re going to sublease and not take possession of 14 floors of office space under construction in Seattle that would have added 3500-5000 jobs. Even w/ the large subsidies offered by NYC, the capital investment by Amazon for a LIC buildout would have been massive. Take out AWS and adv and what do you have? Somewhat of a soft biz. Their e-commerce margins are paltry and you can only raise Prime subscription fees so much before it starts to level off. I’m suggesting Amazon’s growth may have hit a speed bump. Only conjecture at this point. Time will tell.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      > Take out AWS and adv and what do you have? Somewhat of a soft biz.Just straight Amazon, their Web site, is one heck of a good place to go shopping for a LOT of stuff, especially if can wait a little for the items and/or lower the shipping costs.My guess is that the Amazon Web site business is doing nothing but growing; has someone some good data in their SEC reports?That said, lots of people/companies can bring up an equally good Web site; IMHO Wal-Mart is not there yet but SHOULD be able to do it, And Wal-Mart/Sam’s has a lot of advantages in retail locations, warehouses, their side of the shipping, contacts with manufacturers, customers, their pharmacies, etc.My guess is that Amazon can do much more in both volume and variety. And Amazon can do some vertical integration, e.g., sell the parts for a computer, which they do now, but have the needed parts in various well designed collections with some video on how to plug together the parts. They could do more along such lines with lots of topics, cooking, home decorating, pets, educational materials, etc.Just why Amazon was eager to be in LIC escapes me: So that they could be near NYC finance, advertising, fashion — doesn’t sound too pressing to me.If Amazon has about outgrown Seattle, e.g., created traffic jams and a housing shortage, then just move east 100 to 500 miles — lots of open land east of Seattle!For this NYT ad, there has to be a back story — who organized that?

      1. Salt Shaker

        Growing revenue is fine and good, if there are healthy margins to go along w/ it. Not sure if that’s the case w/ their e-commerce biz. It’s a bit like Costco w/ hearty margins built into their sub fees, not product. I’m long on Walmart, btw (as a healthy second e-commerce alt to Amazon on select categories.)

        1. sigmaalgebra

          At first an Amazon story was that they had their margins so thin they were going for volume and forgetting about earnings. Maybe. But they were spending a big BUNDLE on their Web site, warehouses, shipping, etc.Now shopping at Amazon, I’m suspecting that they are raising their margins. One way is emphasizing more expensive goods where the customers are not so concerned about price.

    2. JamesHRH

      This is possible, using resistance as an escape hatch.

  15. leigh

    You’d think one of those big wigs woulda had his email addy and coulda just dropped him a line 😉

  16. Richard

    The ad placement would have been more effective in the Washington Post

    1. leigh

      ha i thought that too 🙂

  17. AutoSniper

    Amazon employees deserve a union. Amazon doesn’t want its employees to unionize. The two facts cannot reconcile. This is why Amazon doesn’t deserve New York.

    1. JamesHRH

      Unions were a terrific idea, in 1919.Now, most of union leadership are some of the most self serving, cynical blockers of innovation. They see themselves as politicians serving a greater community rather than advocates for their membership.

      1. AutoSniper

        Unions are supposed to be an emergent creation. Employers who try to stop unionization should be sued. Employers will do everything in their power to exploit their employees if not for a union. Many government employers at various levels definitely do still have a union, and it’s very valuable to the workers. Without it, wages stagnate or reverse and employees get excessively hassled while the employer and executive staff continue to profit.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Ask Detroit about unions.

          1. JamesHRH

            And what happens when civic pols cater to them.

          2. Rick Mason

            Even Michigan is now a right to work state. Unions belong in the dust bin of history.

        2. JamesHRH

          this is ridiculous. Tons of businesses are people based and even half assed leaders know those people are vital to their success.Good leaders know that every business is a people business.My wife has led unionized business units in the energy industry (think multi billions in revenue) and her success in those situations always were based on things she would do in non-union situations: clear communication, honest dealings and shared understanding of what drove mutual benefit.Those union bosses weren’t national union bosses though, which is the big difference.Ever wonder why no soft skill industries like banking & media talent unionize?

          1. AutoSniper

            > Ever wonder why no soft skill industries like banking & media talent unionize?Because they would be fired if they did unionize before the union could grow. It’s suppressed by fear of losing one’s job.

          2. JamesHRH

            If there was ever a time where it would be easy to blow up an employer for that kind of activity, it is now.Come on.

      2. Lee Williams

        The trouble with this thinking is it’s simplistic. Unions formed in the early 20th century for good reasons. It was an extremely effective tool to improve the lives and wages of employees. Through the 50’s it helped to effectively raise wages, improve working conditions and create a massive middle class. This helped create the lowest wealth disparity in the history of our country. Now all through the middle half of the 20h century to the present day there’s been a concentrated effort to to de-unionize and also for good reason. The unions had suceeeded. Now the remaining unions continued pushing for more perks, etc long past their core issues they were resolved and that’s a fair perspective and the pendulum swung in the other direction. Right now we’re approaching the worst wealth disparity in our nations history, the middle class has evaporated, and the majority of Americans who work full time barely earn a liveable wage, they effectively make the same raw base pay as they did 20 years ago all while inflation has increased and many things like helathcare and education have dramatically increased. In addition the average benefits like health insurance, 401k matching, etc. have continually been decreased or removed entirely. To anyone other than the most privileged of individuals this would be a big deal. It’s likely the time is here or approaching very quickly for the pendulum to swing again in the other direction.

        1. JamesHRH

          Just as a matter of language and manners, ‘simplistic’ implies a lack of rigour or underlying information. It’s an insult at worst or really arrogant at best.Simple is uncluttered. It can be a gift or it can be the residue of hard work.Income disparity is partly systemic but mostly a highly personal philosophical choice.People who value money a lot forego most of life’s simple pleasures to attain it. The simplest example is the ridiculous hours and emotional commitment that star athletes put into their craft. Kevin Durant calls himself a basketball ‘nerd’. Even Patton Oswalt admits to being ‘obsessive or OCD’ about his industry or craft. For these people, and people like Fred, the wealth is an outcome of their personal desires & interests. For others, the wealth is the internet. It matters not – the behaviours and sacrifices are identical.Last year, I met a young man from a vastly underprivileged part of Houston. I met him in the corporate suite of my wife’s company. He attended an IB HS, got intoEngineering @ Rice. He is now a star at a Fortune 50 company. Is he black or Hispanic or Asian or gay or or Irish ( used to be a thing ) or middle eastern or Jewish? Who cares? No one. Because he’s a comer.He talked to me for 8 minutes, had a good time and then went to work the executives that were there, as he should.If you don’t want to move, change friends, add skills, build new relationships or abandon your balance in life, you become a highly fungible commodity,Simple choice.If you are willing to do those things, modern America will reward you with wealth. More people could become wealthy today in America than in any other place in time or history.Simple truth.

  18. Richard

    There is another large amazon shareholder with as many shares Mr. Bezos 🙂

  19. David Spiva

    This letter is begging for Amazon to return, but doesn’t address Amazon’s bad behavior. Which is negligent at best and malicious at worst.If any of the undersigned believe in the ethics or honor of the American system and free market business opportunities, you would have addressed that Amazon should try again, except without the subsidies and tax breaks, on a fair playing field.The undersigned might like the idea of the HQ2 because it helps people who are in their socioeconomic class, but if they sought a wider perspective and really looked at the way Amazon treats the city of Seattle, they’d understand the backlash. They’d notice the way Amazon doesn’t like to give back to the well being of their neighborhood. They’d notice that 25k more jobs also means 25k more evictions of families. They might even gain a better understand of their own ethical responsibilities.This comes right after Bezos himself has said that his company was built on the leveraging of public infrastructure that he didn’t have to fund or manage.It’s hard to find a more apt metaphor, but if New Yorkers are begging for Amazon to move into their city, it’s basically like a codependent lover begging their abusive sugar daddy to move into their house and start paying the rent. Yeah, part of them might enjoy it sometimes, but it’s not a situation that’s going to end well, is healthy, or should be encouraged.

    1. Richard

      Yep, crony capitalism is socialism’s brother. Politicians rent off of both.

    2. April Johnson

      This. Fred Wilson are you listening? This is so much bigger than Corporate Payoffs or Benefits. Real Human lives are deeply affected.

  20. jason wright

    This?…”If New York state were a country, it would be the 11th largest in the world by GDP.”After reading this headline statement i do wonder.Something doesn’t feel quite right about this entire story.

  21. Ian Fellows

    I’ve been following this with some passive interest. I think one can (as you do) make a strong argument that Amazon coming to NYC would be a good thing for NYC even after a $3 Billion dollar gift to the company.What is less clear to me is whether there is a good argument that Amazon locating in NYC is a good thing generally. NYC has a large, vibrant and diverse economy. It will be just fine without Amazon’s jobs. Wouldn’t it be better to locate those 25k jobs in a place that isn’t already an economic powerhouse? Wouldn’t that have a bigger net positive effect given the greater percent increase in available capital / disposable income?

  22. Ian Fellows

    I mean, it is not like all those jobs are gone. They are just going to a different location. A location where they arguably could do more good than in New York.

    1. Guy Lepage

      Sorry I should have been more clear. They owe the *25,000 job “collateral” to folks in Long Island City. So yes. Those 25,000 jobs were promised. In investment terms that would be considered collateral. So they need to drum up 25,000 worth of promised jobs at bare minimum.

  23. jason wright

    “A clear majority of New Yorkers support this project…” – Evidence to back this bold statement please.

    1. fredwilson

      many polls have been done. most are public. you can google for them. consistently over 70% of NYers of all locations, race, wealth, etc support this

  24. Jake Baker

    Thanks, Fred!

  25. jason wright

    The NYC Amazon ‘affair’ shows just how hopelessly incapable (and incompetent) capitalist elites are at managing their own system of privilege for their continued privilege. It hints strongly of a decay.Letters are not ‘open’ simply because they are published. This letter is an entirely ‘closed’ projection of an elite talking for and to itself, but claiming to talk for the rest of society.

  26. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The huge mistake made by all the executives and influencers that signed the letter is that you should have not underestimated Jeff Bezos and have ran to the table asking him what could you do before his decision to pullout.Now the second thoughts and regrets after the company that can change the economy of your locale.New York politics have ways been tough. Jeff Bezos isn’t accustomed to being challenged. That is just the way New York operates. You require a tough disposition to get through it. Google, Facebook & Apple moved to New York City without incentives and it is working fine for them. It was all about that damn Heliport Jeff Bezos wanted. Just like a petulant child.Next challenge up. Move on and thanks for playing. Go home with your ball.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  27. creative group

    Guy Lepage:We are free market supporters but the people you talk to look like you and have the same interests as you. Walk over to Quednsbridge housing projects and ask people about gentrification and how it will effect them. We know you are not even going over there. We have and can.We did support Amazon move to LIC.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

    1. Salt Shaker

      The President of the Tenant’s Association for Queensbridge Housing actually signed the letter. It’s a depressed area, not surprised. They wouldn’t get squeezed out, but questionable what job opps would be avail to them had Amazon deal gone through. (Both Ron Artest and Lamar Odom are products of Queensbridge, btw.)

  28. Philip Curry

    As a local resident and supporter of Amazon’s move to LIC i am appreciative of the letter but believe that this ship has sailed.I am very frustrated by the knee jerk sound bite tweets which are driving too much of our current political discourse.There is no discussion of what will happen to these parcels of land without Amazon coming, i fully expect the owners to resubmit their rezoning proposals so we will end up with the light manufacturing currently housed there rehoused vertically, 7,500 new luxury apartments (Plaxalls’ proposal for the site in 2017 calls for 65 – 70 story apartments by the basin) of which circa 20% will be affordable and a tech incubation lab. The same school amazon would propose would also be built and there will likely be 15 year tax breaks offered on the development. So we exchange one tax break funded construction project for another and lose the technology jobs.The points about infrastructure are a red herring, without Amazon we will end up with another 15,000 people (say 2 per apartment) all commuting into the city at the same time and there will be no relief on the transportation infrastructure from people walking to work or reverse commuting. It is likely there will be more stress on the local subways with apartments.I understand and emphasize on the displacement of local residents through gentrification but this will still happen without Amazon. LIC is four stops on the subway to the largest business development project in the United States at Hudson yards. We have to address how to assist the people impacted but that does not mean saying no to development.There is a debate to be had on incentives, but i think the bigger debate on taxes is the ability of technology companies to shift profits to low tax jurisdictions through transfer pricing or the myriad of tax break offered to the real estate investors. But these are hard things and do not lend themselves to being discussed in a tweet.

  29. Lety

    I’m happy tha amazon has pulled off from wretched NY state. Guess it’s the beginning of a more severe punishment the state faces after the immorality Gov. Cuomo approved with infanticide; the worst of social issues that can possibly be mentioned.

  30. Donna Brewington White

    Is this a Hail Mary?

  31. OldManGoldenwords

    Open letter should have included stop acting like stingy billionaire who doesn’t want to pay taxes. Protests are heating up in Virginia. They will lose tax loophole there too shortly. For all these big companies infact there should be tax surcharge instead of tax rebate. By being big they will impose systemic risk to economy, and too big to fail and too big to jail.

  32. Jen van der Meer

    As a participant observer of the famed contentious City Council meeting where the deal went awry, I can tell you that the way you characterized the mood “rough and not very welcoming” was not accurate. It was much messier.Amazon’s great weakness: interacting with the customers that also call themselves citizens, neighbors, union organizers, and local politicians. Amazon’s biggest blindspot: stakeholders and systems not yet engineered by Amazon. While being questioned about the math behind the deal valuation, the company’s stance on unions and working for ICE, the actual interactions with local citizens, Amazon’s reps were awkward, flummoxed, and opaque. They were simply not prepared for respectful citizen engagement and deft local power politics.We as citizens are rejecting Robert Moses-style moves. Top-down. Not listening to the citizens that we are, above the consumers and commercial leaders that we also are. More Jane Jacobs, more listening, more nuanced coalition building, please.

  33. sachmo


  34. awaldstein

    YupI have an unpopular opinion that the real cause of failure here is with the process.They brought the deal done to the community. Such nonsense.I had a similar experience as part of the steering committee of my neighborhood board in San Jose The Rose Garden section when the city wanted to build the hockey stadium and extend the airport runway.Two years of meetings. And screaming and crying.Real learning experience on process and negotiations when at the end you knew they were going to do it but it was a concession and least worst game.

  35. Richard

    Occasionally a broken cook ( I mean clock) get its right – AOC. Amazon should be socially responsible and place these jobs in an area that needs the ecconomic development.

  36. meredithcollinz

    “Funny–a New York company would have just dusted themselves off and kept moving.” I totally agree. I was devastated when they pulled out, but the more I learned, the more I felt their culture just does not fit our culture. They came off, to me, super arrogant, but not very tough — and what’s New York if not tough! The image I keep seeing is the fussy rich kid who takes his shiny red ball and goes home. Not much of an Amazon. And while I admire the efforts of Fred and the folks trying to bring Amazon back – because we are clearly losing a big opportunity – someone else described the tone of the letter as “begging” and I agree. Made my toes curl. Call me an arrogant New Yorker, but if we need to beg and if Amazon could simply swap NYC out for any other city, then I don’t think it would be very successful in the end. They don’t see us as offering any particular value, and they would treat us that way, which would not sit well with New Yorkers who, I agree, are already feeling unheard. And as you also said, Amazon would be a constant target, and the discord would be endless.

  37. Salt Shaker

    Political theater. This was much about boosting political legacies than economic growth. De Blasio and Cuomo didn’t want to share the glory, so they dismissed community involvement. And now that its gone south, they’re pointing fingers at everyone else. That said, I don’t understand why the one local guy, who was instrumental in squashing the deal, repeatedly refused to meet w/ Amazon mgt.

  38. gorbachev

    Your opinion might be unpopular, but it’s 100% accurate.Amazon would’ve been welcomed in open arms, if:1. Involve all important stakeholders in the process2. Cuomo’s reputation in New York City is probably at an all time low at the moment. Anything he champions is looked skeptically no matter what, especially if it’s done the way this deal was3. Think of optics (helipad…come’on)4. Remove the subsidies5. Have a real plan to invest in mitigating effects of the HQ on public transportation, traffic and gentrification of the area.

  39. awaldstein

    Dunno.But posturing is language and they in this case are illiterate. And NY loses.

  40. Salt Shaker

    Thx for the link. De Blasio and/or Cuomo should have known final approvals would have to be vetted through the state run Public Authorities Control Board. They prob thought they could just ram it through. The late naming of Gianaris to the Board, a Cuomo nemesis, was a bit of political chess.

  41. JamesHRH

    Yes, because other companies pay Amazon employees?Chuckles, stop it.

  42. Peter Radizeski

    $28B in income tax on 11K temp jobs and 25K permanent jobs????

  43. Guy Lepage

    See my reply below..They owe the *25,000 job “collateral” to folks in Long Island City. So yes. Those 25,000 jobs were promised. In investment terms that would be considered collateral. So they need to drum up 25,000 worth of promised jobs at bare minimum.

  44. Richard

    Street Smart maybe (definitely a pot head) but not intelligent. I’d love to see her college work. I think of her as a dumb Elizabeth Holmes.

  45. atmssg

    “Amazon should be socially responsible”Amazon put out a request for proposals. NYC responded. I’m assuming that Amazon then moved forward counting on NYC to be able to fulfill what they had proposed. The community pushed back against what NYC proposed and Amazon accepted. I highly doubt that Amazon changed the rules after they received the proposal and chose NYC.Is it unfair that Amazon pitted cities against each other and “forced” NYC to offer something that the community didn’t agree to? That’s a different question.I’ve responded to RFPs as a tech vendor. If I won a contract and my employees revolted because of the customer, contract terms or deliverables – I wouldn’t even think to blame the company that issued the RFP and chose us.

  46. JamesHRH

    Charlie, good natured ribbing.I freaking hate being called Jimmy but it makes me laugh when Jeff does it.I call SigmaAlgebra Siggy.If I wanted you to feel pain from a verbal barrage, trust me, we would not need to parse stuff.You just said that Amazon is not responsible for the $28B in tax revenue b/c it mostly would come from their employees. That’s got a bit of a logical aroma to it, doesn’t it?Thought we were on better terms. Will make a note to pretend I don’t know, respect & like you a bit.

  47. Peter Radizeski


  48. Pointsandfigures

    I am so old I remember when it was “socially responsible” to create value for customers and employ people.

  49. meredithcollinz

    There you go! Love it! Expand the pie is always the best way. Wish they did that from the beginning, but better late than never!

  50. JamesHRH

    Uh, they end up short many billions.

  51. JamesHRH

    They don’t need NYC.Tough is a ‘do things because I need to’ factor.

  52. meredithcollinz

    They have all the money in the world, so I am sure you are right. But making it so clear is the reason they got the reaction they got. Regarding the rest, ok.

  53. Richard

    You are getting old, that’s called capitalism.

  54. JamesHRH

    All the money is actually just to allow Jeff to do more interesting things, son’t you think?

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