Pittsburgh, The Playbook For Building A Great City
"Cities, much like internet companies such as Amazon, can be susceptible to a state in which things do not change, move, or progress. This can often occur unknowingly by simply being dictated by the process instead of the outcomes."
It's hard to deny one aspect of the city's appeal: cost of living. "Pittsburgh is creating a welcoming atmosphere for entrepreneurs without negatively impacting them with the high cost of living like we're seeing in coastal cities."1
Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, released his annual shareholder letter a few days ago. Bezos attached a copy of his 1997 shareholder letter that still holds relevance today. Within the letter, Bezos states that companies should either be Day 1 or Day 2 companies. CNBC’s Anita Balakrishnan shares Bezo’s explanation of Amazon’s philosophy and the difference between Day 1 and Day 2 companies:
Bezos compares “Day 1” companies — companies that are at the beginning of their potential — with “Day 2” companies. “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Bezos’ approach should not just be a lesson to all companies, but also cities. Cities, much like internet companies such as Amazon, can be susceptible to a state in which things do not change, move, or progress. This can often occur unknowingly by simply being dictated by the process instead of the outcomes. Customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making are essential to staying in Day 1.
A city that we, humble ventures, recently visited (and were blown away by) that encompasses all of these characteristics is Pittsburgh. Below are some eye-opening insights into how Pittsburgh has come to be a high collision environment and Day 1 city:
True Customer Obsession
“Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”- Bezos
The customer in Pittsburgh’s perspective are the high-growth tech startups and employees that live in the cultural districts across the city. Pittsburgh has an incredible pool of talent coming out of Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and other academic institutions that are attracting startups to launch and scale their businesses.