“In a remote world all politics are global. Any city can tap into the global tech community by simply announcing technologically progressive policies. Or repel them by the opposite of the same.” – Balaji Srinivasan
(responding to candidate for mayor of New York Andrew Yang to invest in making the city a hub for crypto.)
A while back mayor Francis Suarez of Miami went insanely viral with one simple tweet. In a time when Californian politicians looking for the spotlight were 'attacking' visionary entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and various Venture Capitalists responsible for the creation of thousands of jobs (and tax income) in the state, Suarez decided to take a totally different approach.
An entrepreneur out of Silicon Valley tweeted out to see if there were people interested in moving to another city, such as Miami. 'Tech people' from the Bay Area are not happy with the way the region is developing, and many also feel targeted by politicians, who blame them for several of the problems the area is facing.
The simple tweet from Suarez should not have been anything special, but in a world where so many (local) politicians think they are by far the most important people for a city, region or state, it seems that many of them can't stand to share the attention with innovative entrepreneurs building huge companies.
Things seem to have changed after a politician tweeted “Fuck Elon Musk”, and he simply responded “message received”. The consequence of this? Musk made the decision to move Tesla to Austin, Texas and will be taking thousands of jobs with him. Just weeks after this episode Mayor Suarez responded to the tweet of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur about a potential move to Miami:
“How can I help?”
What has happened in the last few months since, has been a pleasure to whitness. Mayor Suarez went on a huge Twitter campaign, to show entrepreneurs he really wants these companies to consider Miami as a new location. Mayor Suarez and his team, along with amazing investors such as Keith Rabois, have been focusing on attracting investments to the city. Miami is quickly building a strong ecosystem thanks to a Mayor that understands his job in the Digital Age.
In a recent video where he anounced a new (crypto) company setting up new offices in the city, he said that he believes every new job created influences three generations of a family. Suarez has been consistently showing how much he wants to work together with entrepreneurs, instead of against them like is happening in a few areas in the US.
His 'out of the box thinking', both in terms of solutions and PR, needs to be studied by every (local) politician. The power of technology needs to be embraced, and not fought in the name of consumer protection. Suarez knows that technology can't be stopped so he's using his energy to position the city in a way that it can develop together with the tech and companies that are going to shape the next decades.
“A lot of cities are run by people who think government is the answer. I don't. I think government has to exist for a limited purpose, to do things within its limited competency and then facilitate the private sector.” – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
If this playbook was implemented by any Cabo Verdean Camara Municipal, imagine what could happen. I'm not trying to compare places in our country to a city like Miami. My point is that it all starts with a certain vision of the future. The playbook really isn't that different from the one used to attract companies and investors within the tourism sector.
Blockchain, crypto and the future of work are creating this new reality that things can happen anywhere in the world. El Salvador has already proved what happens when you choose to be a leader in the adoption of new technology and the opportunities within the entire industry. It remains to be seen how things work out, but the start of it has been very promising.
We're so early when it comes to blockchain and crypto that the creation of a Blockchain Hub in our country could change the trajectory of our future forever. The same way we moved the physical world to the internet, practically everything will move on-chain. We can create new (job)markets on the back of all these exiting developments. An interesting example is Estonia, a country with a population of a little over 2x of Cabo Verde.
Because of their focus on technology and the many advantages of fully embracing the change that comes with it, the country has been able to create 2 startup unicorns in recent years. Companies are considered a unicorn when they reach a billion dollar valuation. An incredible acomplishment for a young and small nation, which even saw Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) make its debut at the London Stock Exchange in July.
Suarez is very aware of the fact that many states in the US fear blockchain and crypto. True decentralization will change our societies and the roles of politicians. Few are ready to live and work in an environment that depends little on simply trusting them, but can run on trustless and permissionless decentralized chains.
I see Suarez as the 'modern politician'. Where the traditional politician wants and chases non-transparent centralization, he's working on solutions to integrate Bitcoin as a payment option for taxes and government services. His philosophy of government as a limited enabler for the private sector has attracted (blockchain) technology companies who see him as a partner, not a necessary evil.
Blockchain and crypto adoption (in more than one way) by local and state politicians in Cabo Verde might be the biggest opportunity in our history to build a better life for the many and not just the few. Of course a lot of work needs to be done before that can happen. Estonia shows it's not impossible for a young and small nation to do great things. One of the aspects we need to focus on talent development.
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