Startup founders still flock to SF / SFUSD Superintendent to retire in June

It's Wednesday, March 10th.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

The talented Annie Gaus and I wrote a piece today that dug into the question of whether San Francisco was still a viable place to start a startup. 

For most of the ten founders we spoke to, their answer was “yes,” despite the still-high cost of living, recent exodus from the city, and industry’s embrace of remote work. Their reasons for being here varied, but centered on the idea that the network of people in San Francisco (and nearby) is still second to none. And they valued that. 

“Yes, Miami is getting popular and Austin’s getting popular,” Qasim Salam, CEO of the engineering consulting company Remotebase, told me. “But for entrepreneurs, San Francisco still offers an ecosystem that’s better than both of those places combined.” 

There’s also an allure to the city (and Silicon Valley) that’s easy to forget for people who have lived here for a while. I like how Nikolas Huebecker, the 18-year-old co-founder of the assistant app Quinn, put it. 

“There's nowhere else in the world, or that I've ever seen in the world, where you just kind of get to hang out with really insane people doing really crazy things,” he said. “It’s kind of like a rite of passage to come to SF.”

And with that… onto some news… 

SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews announced on Wednesday that he plans to retire on June 30th, after what’s already been a tumultuous twelve months for the district. “Though it saddens me to leave at a time when our district is already experiencing so many destabilizing hardships brought on by this pandemic, after much reflection, I believe this is the right time,” Dr. Matthews said in a statement

A San Francisco native and graduate of JE McAteer High School, Dr. Matthews has held the superintendent role since May 2017. SF school board president Gabriela Lopez, who’s one of three board members facing a recall effort, said on Wednesday that she would “share about hiring Dr. Matthews’ replacement shortly.” 

“We’re excited and happy for Dr. Matthews as we wish him a long and happy retirement,” Lopez said. 

San Francisco public school students will have free access to in-person academic programs, outdoor camps, and more this summer, the Chronicle reported on Wednesday, as part of a joint effort between the city and philanthropic groups called Summer Together. The initiative is backed by a $25 million donation from Crankstart, the foundation started by Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz and his wife, novelist Harriet Heyman, as well as more than $25 million expected from the city, the Chronicle said. 

Some 20,000 students are likely to partake in the summer learning programs, which will be held in locations throughout the city and coordinated by the volunteer organization Together SF. Tech companies whose employees are working from home may even offer up office space for students to meet, the Chronicle said. 

“This is big,” Maria Su, executive director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, told the Chronicle. “This is a big deal.” 

Enrollment for Summer Together starts in April, but families can register on its webpage here to receive updates.  

The Ferris wheel inside Golden Gate Park may, after all of this, only be around for one more year. After the Historic Preservation Commission voted last week to keep the wheel for four more years, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Connie Chan claimed that any business contract with an outside vendor needed approval from the Board of Supervisors, according to the Chronicle

On Tuesday, the board voted to move the matter to its Rules Committee, of which Peskin and Chan hold two of the three seats. And with a two-thirds vote requirement, it looks likely that the supervisors will have their way in shortening the SkyStar’s stay. More to come. 

Quick bits: 

  • ⚾ The Oakland A’s have named 34-year-old Amelia Schimmel as its new PA announcer. Schimmel will be the A’s third-ever PA announcer and the first female to carry the title in the club’s history. (SFGate

  • 💪 San Francisco high school students are reaching out to their peers through videos and emails to help support their mental wellness. (SF Public Press)

  • 🐕 A man and his two dogs were miraculously uninjured after falling 80-feet down a cliff at Fort Funston on Tuesday. The incident comes just three days after a Labrador puppy was rescued from the side of a cliff near the same beach. Careful at Fort Funston y'all! (CBS / SFist

  • 🍜 The Michelin starred-Mister released its new cookbook on Tuesday. Eater called it a “deep dive into Chinese-American food.” (Eater

  • 🌿 The “Bush Man” who scared tourists along Fisherman’s Wharf for some 35 years was spotted recently in Key West. Apparently, he’s taken his act to Florida! (Broke-Ass Stuart

And finally… I spoke with 20-year-old climate activist Edgar McGregor today about his 589-day clean-up of his beloved Eaton Canyon park in LA. The interview is around 30 minutes, but if you have some time, I’d love for you to listen. 

McGregor has such a good perspective on the trash issue and his sense of urgency on the matter is inspiring. For one, he thinks cities and park services should hire more people dedicated to picking up trash. 

“It really is imperative that we ditch the idea that ‘no littering’ signs work, that we ditch the idea that adding trash cans is a magical solution,” McGregor said. “The only solution is to hire people to come and pick it up.” 

Of course, volunteers can help, as McGregor has proven. His advice on how to get started is simple: “I grab a bucket, I grab some gloves, I shut up, and I go out there and I pick up some trash.”

I also love that despite picking up trash in nearly 120-degree heat, howling winds, and even a snowstorm (you gotta watch his extreme weather video compilation), McGregor said his hardest clean-up was his first one. 

“Just get started and you’ll find your way,” he said. 

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow!

- Nick B. 

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