NBA All-Star Andre Iguodala was traded to the Miami Heat in February 2020, a month before COVID-19 catalyzed this mainstream migration. Iguodala, an angel investor and venture partner at the Catalyst Fund, now has a first-hand look at the tech scene in the Florida city.
“Well, even before the pandemic hit, we're starting to see smaller tech hubs kind of being formed throughout the country,” he told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, a day before SoftBank announced a $100 million fund to finance Miami-based tech startups.
“You even look on the East Coast, a place like Austin, talks of Cleveland even, especially with their special sector within precious metals, and companies trying to start up there. And then now you're seeing it here in Miami,” he added.
Miami Mayor Suarez’s pro-business outlook and rhetoric, as well as lower tax rates, less regulation and better weather in Florida, have gained exponential appeal amid the coronavirus pandemic and the new work from anywhere reality for many white collar workers. The U-Haul index is one measure of seeing where Americans are moving. In 2020, California came in last place by a wide margin, replacing Illinois as the state with the greatest net loss of U-Haul moving trucks.
The exodus from California includes the likes of Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, venture capitalists Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer, and other prominent execs. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian says his move to Florida was heavily scrutinized years ago, but noted two months ago that his business life is doing “pretty well.”
Few years ago I moved from SF to Florida. People shocked. "But how will you do business from South Florida?" Three years later, my business life doing pretty well 😏 and headlines every time another Silicon Valley exec leaves for Miami.
— §AlexisOhanian 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@alexisohanian) December 6, 2020
For his part, Iguodala has traversed the country, starting his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, before spending six seasons with San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors and then a single season with the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite the emergence of formidable tech hubs, Iguodala is skeptical that Silicon Valley will erode entirely.
“I have a few folks who I had a lot of contact with back in Silicon Valley who are starting to move over. And you're starting to see the mayor of Miami, he's been tweeting a lot about bitcoin. You got a lot of conversation [with people saying], ‘I moved over to Austin as well.’ And then, you got some secretive moves down here in Miami with some large properties. So you're starting to see it, but I think with the concentration of brainpower in the Bay Area, they could still be the headquarters.”
Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.