NYTimes Predicted San Francisco Would 'Drown In Millionaires' Post IPO Boom; Now Whines That It Never Happened

from the so-much-hype dept

Back in March, NY Times reporter Nellie Bowles had quite a story, announcing that When Uber and Airbnb Go Public, San Francisco Will Drown In Millionaires. Nearly all of the article was quotes from various third party service providers -- real estate, financial planners, party planners -- excitedly planning to cash in, but the overall tone of the article was basically one big "Man, San Francisco is sure going to be totally overrun by obnoxious insanely rich tech bros." When that article came out, I think I heard about it from just about everyone I knew. People both here in the Bay Area and elsewhere were all commenting on it -- in many cases worried what it would do to where we all live.

And, basically none of it happened. So rather than explore why NY Times reporter Nellie Bowles got it wrong, she's just written a new article about the same types of folks as the last article, complaining that they can't find all the "zillionaires" they expected. Maybe because that's not how any of this works and the original article was feeding a nonsense narrative? But that's not covered. There's no mention of the earlier article at all. There's no exploration of why the predictions didn't come true. Just scores of quotes from people disappointed that the throngs of stupid rich tech bros spending silly money didn't actually appear.

This seems like the kind of thing that the NY Times would know better than to do. Both stories are making grand claims, where data could and should exist, but supporting them solely with a few limited anecdotes. There are good times to use anecdotes as a narrative tool in reporting, but considering how frequently I heard from people who honestly believed that tech IPOs were going to completely change San Francisco over the past few months -- which didn't even remotely happen -- it seems like the NY Times owes readers a bit more self-reflection on why it ran the original story, why it framed it the way it did, and why its predictions that were written as if they were set in stone never actually happened.

This is the kind of thing that the NY Times used to have a "public editor" to handle, but the NY Times decided a few yeas back that it no longer needed such a position. Each and every day we learn more about why that was a mistake.

Filed Under: ipos, millionaires, predictions, real estate, reporting, san francisco
Companies: ny times


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:20am

    Each and every day we learn more about why that was a mistake.

    Only if 'we' is not all inclusive, obviously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:40am

    When journalism meant something

    Could it be that Big Media is hiring creative writers, ideologues, and PR spinners rather than reporters and editors? Between fake news (as defined by whomever calls it fake), acting as stenographers for government or corporations, the spouting of social justice warriors without any contrasting opinion, etc, it is hard to continue calling much of Big Media, actual media rather than mainstream advertisers.

    Even 'news' stories come laced with opinion and slant, rather than unadorned facts, updated with more facts as they become available. Opinion, slant, PR, fiction and stenographic articles could and should be relegated to the Op-Ed pages and clearly marked as such. The rest of the publication should be true to the origins of 'reporting' and report rather than fashion or opine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceboy (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:10am

    Came here to say this, but not quite as eloquently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:15am

    This seems like the kind of thing that the NY Times would know better than to do.

    You clearly hold the NYT to a higher expectation than I do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:47am

      Re: NYT icon

      "You clearly hold the NYT to a higher expectation than I do."

      yeah, the leftish disposed crowd has always held NYT in high regard despite mountains of direct evidence to the contrary in past century.
      They will forgive NYT, as always.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:28am

    There are plenty of people in the SF bay area making good money, but there is a strong element of 'winning the lottery' in the area. A handful win big, but the average payout is less than the perception.

    You frequently hear about the few mid-level employees that made millions on their stock. You don't hear from the much larger proportion that worked long hours for modest pay with the expectation that their stock would be the big payday, only to end up with stock options or RSUs that are 'in the money' just enough to keep them from leaving the job until they finish vesting.
    From what I've seen, the path to an IPO or being bought out is usually preceded by a year of practically cooking the books to grow, gain customers with one-off discounts, and attract employees with luxurious workplace amenities. Just before the IPO the stock is shuffled to make the regular employee shares and options worth significantly less. Just after the IPO the amenities are cut.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      All of this is exactly why I'm keeping my eye on the job market (and would even jump ship now if the right position came along). My current employer has been talking about going IPO for a couple years now. It's likely to happen within the next two years but I'm already vested in my options and they don't offer more (bad move). I can disappear before the shitshow happens and still get the same reward all those who stuck it out will get.

      IPOs turn great workplaces into paint-by-numbers workhouses, all in service of quarterly earnings reports. Everything that makes a company a great place to work goes first after the IPO completes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nerdrage (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 9:02am

      Re: trust funds and rent control

      In my neighborhood, there seems to be two types of people: old folks who have been here forever and presumably have rent control; and Millennials who work in tech or finance and probably are living 6 to an apartment, where they only go to sleep after either hitting the bars or the gyms or the restaurants that seem to be the only places still in business after Amazon has closed everything else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 9:15am

    Not what they do

    New York Times does not drudge through data in order to figure out what should happen or what did happen. Instead, NYT reports what some buisness enthusiast said.

    This would be the same type of enthusiastic individual who sold Wisconsin on a factory tax incentive a while back. Their goal is to push business deals through, not to achieve accuracy in reporting.

    Where NYT broke down, is they're supposed to get balanced opinions. Funny how often that doesn't happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 9:49am

      Re: Not what they do

      Where NYT broke down, is they're supposed to get balanced opinions.

      That sounds an awful lot like the "view-from-nowhere" approach that has done significant harm to the mainstream US press.

      Sometimes, reporting "balanced opinions" merely muddies an issue and creates a sense of false equivalence. We've been dealing with a "both sides" approach to climate science for 30 years at this point; it hasn't worked out well.

      If one person says it's raining and another one says it's not, a journalist's job isn't to report both sides, it's to look out the window.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 10:39am

        Re: Re: Not what they do

        iirc, tobacco also had a both sides thing - and one side was lying.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 3:27pm

        Re: Re: Not what they do

        Some say eating live babies is a God-given right. Others say it's a horrific abomination. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

        ;)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        R/O/G/S, 28 Dec 2019 @ 9:28pm

        Re: Re: Not what they do

        Aaaaand, that look out the window will get any serious, unbiased journalist fired
        very quickly( excellent quote by the way).

        Pulitzer prize earner Chris Hedges was fired, and smeared by the Sulzberger klan and its accolytes because he called out the Iraq war fraud:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Hedges

        Journalism is a tribal sectarian mess, and news is a battleground between their interests; and it cannot be denied that religion is a major factor behind the destruction of non-biased journalists who look out that window.

        Remember: the NYT was still smearing Gary Webb, even as late as a few years ago, with an after death body punch.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2019 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re: Not what they do

        Looking out the window... Excellent quote. Is it yours?

        But anyone who has worked in journalism knows that it is religious-tribal sectarian, subscriber based, and no real journalists work in the MSM.

        Gary Webb was our generations canary, and the Sulzberger Klan and its accolytes, were romper-stomping on his grave just a couple years ago.

        And, they fired Pulitzer winning Chris Hedges (a Presbyterian) for his criticism of the Iraq war, and put total racist sectarians like Bari Weiss in as gatekeepers, and base builders afterwards.

        https://www.democracynow.org/2003/5/21/new_york_times_reporter_chris_hedges

        Hmmm...the Base...where have we heard that before?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bt, 26 Dec 2019 @ 1:47pm

      Re: Not what they do

      Any story that spends it's time making predictions is not a news story at all. It's an opinion, and those opinions are usually targeted to an intended audience and New Yorkers love "California is Doomed Stories" as much as Woody Allen likes younger women.

      The problem with News is that is now totally infected with opinions. Fact-finding is hard and expensive, opinions are free. How else do you fill 7x24 airtime? Also, it seems that facts are boring to many; we'd rather spend our time with someone who's fun than with someone who is knowledgable.

      Fox is no different than the NYT, they just make it more obvious is all. And the Fox News audience seems to prefer more crude forms of entertainment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:43pm

        Re: Re: Not what they do

        One flat out lies on a regular basis, the other actually tries to adhere to the truth albeit slanted and incomplete on occasion plus they actually issue retractions.

        No different? I don't know what world you live in, but the only thing we at this point can liken Fox to, is the Ministry of Truth.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 11:21am

    How much?

    Free financial advice is usually worth as much as you paid for it: zero.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:06pm

    "New York Times does not drudge through data in order to figure out what should happen or what did happen. Instead, NYT reports what some buisness enthusiast said."

    If we derive an additional definition for "drudge" from observing Matt Drudge, we could propose that to drudge is exactly the citing of topic enthusiasts without resort to deep dives into factual data, e.g., The Obama Birther Conspiracy.

    This article demonstrates that the NYT "drudges."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:18pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2019 @ 3:56pm

    Yes, it's a good thing SF hasn't turned into a place where only millionaires and the homeless live- y'know, a place where the sidewalks are regularly covered in fecal matter yup uh huh

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2019 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      You know I can appreciate "too much of a good thing" as a concept but I still find myself annoyed by Southern Californians being whiney brats about "problems" that other municipalities would kill for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R/O/G/S, 28 Dec 2019 @ 7:32pm

    the original article was feeding a nonsense narrative

    Not necessarily, because if that appeared in the business section of any paper, its totally permissible routine type speculation, like running a fleshed out PR blurb.

    Papers do it all the time.

    So I think the problem is that you are just waking up to the Sulzberger klans New Yarwk Times as garbage journalism, beholden to its subscribers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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