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Preceding today's news that Amazon has narrowed down the list of potential cities for establishing a second headquarters — and San Diego is not among them — Forbes magazine had an astonishing item in its January 16 issue.

The article gave three reasons why Amazon would pick San Diego. Reason two was “Talent pool." Get this: “The University of San Diego has one of the best computer science programs in the world. It is also home to the San Diego Supercomputer Center,” reads the Forbes article. Actually, the supercomputer center is at the University of California San Diego, which also has one of the best computer science programs in the world. The University of San Diego has a good computer program, but it is hardly one of the best in the world.

Then, under the title “Travel convenience,” Forbes said, “San Diego has access to two international airports. The San Diego International Airport is right downtown, the most convenient international airport in any major metro area. With the Cross-Border XPress, the Tijuana International Airport is less than 30 minutes from downtown San Diego.”

But how about the number of international flights? San Diego International Airport has flights to Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and the U.K. Tijuana has flights to Central America and Shanghai. But, come on. The U.S. airports with the most international flights, in order, are New York (JFK), Miami, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago (O’Hare), Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC (Dulles), and Dallas-Fort Worth. Actually, convenience of international travel would be a strike against San Diego.

Forbes did get one right: under “Quality of life,” said Forbes, “The appeal of life in San Diego is unmatched.” Perhaps true, but apparently Amazon was looking for more than that.

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Comments

dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 10:03 a.m.

Forbes is a substandard business publication. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vanity Fair or even FOX News would not have made those stupid mistakes. Also, it was well-known Amazon didn't want it in California/West Coast.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 10:24 a.m.

dwbat: Forbes is NOT a substandard business publication. It is true that it is nowhere near as good as it was in the 1960s and 1970s (and beyond) when it was the best business magazine by far. (At the time, I was with Business Week and watched sadly as Forbes did tough stories, while BW and Fortune did fluff.) Since then, Forbes has declined, but it still provides some good material.

You have to be joking to put Fox News in the same category as the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and Vanity Fair. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 10:48 a.m.

My point was that NO established publication or TV news should confuse UCSD with USD. This is sloppy reporting that, IMHO, puts Forbes in the "substandard" group. I didn't put Fox in the same category as the other three; just saying "even" Fox wouldn't have been THAT stupid. This is Journalism 101 stuff.

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Fred Williams Jan. 23, 2018 @ 1:11 p.m.

Hi Don,

Forbes Magazine is a different entity from Forbes online.

Forbes online has pivoted to become a content platform...from my experience (I know some of these people), they'll let anyone write any crap they want with no editorial oversight. They monetize the clicks, so they really don't care. Some of the writers even pay for the privilege, so they can claim to be "a writer at Forbes". (I turned them down.)

"Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Members are hand-selected by the Council's selection committee. Find out if you qualify at forbestechcouncil.com/qualify."

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 12:27 p.m.

dwbat: Yes, the point of my piece, too, was that Forbes had blown it. But that doesn't make the publication "substandard." Forbes yearly publishes a list of the richest U.S. citizens and another of the richest citizens in the world. These are used by other journalists because are reliable. Similarly, Forbes publishes the value of pro sports teams each year. The is also considered solid information that other journalists use. Don't denigrate Forbes over one egregiously bad call. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Jan. 18, 2018 @ 12:31 p.m.

unless the journalists have depended on Forbes info without doing any checking on their own.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 2:16 p.m.

dwbat: See my response to Murphyjunk. You simply don't understand the complexity of compiling those lists. Forbes has a team of people working on the numbers for a year. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 6:33 p.m.

Never said anything about "lists"; I'm talking about news articles. Those are two different things.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 7:47 p.m.

dwbat: But you called Forbes substandard. If you knew the value of these lists, you would not say such a thing. Besides, they are not just lists. For example, in its Forbes 400 edition, in which it lists, in order, the richest Americans, it has copy about each person. The same is true with the international list and the annual compilations about the value of sports teams. There is enlightened copy that goes with the lists. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 2:14 p.m.

Murphyjunk: Forbes spends an enormous amount of time on those lists. I have been interviewed by them and been impressed with the interviewer's thoroughness.

Do you think any journalist would try to figure independently.the worth of all 32 NFL teams? These are privately-held companies and the NFL doesn't help at all. The only information is on Green Bay, which releases certain financial info because a large number of families there own a piece of the team. For example, one can figure out how much NFL teams get from their TV contracts by looking at Green Bay numbers -- only because all the teams get the same amount. Say, if you were trying to figure out the net worth of each person on the Forbes 400, you would be taking a year or more. Better to use the Forbes figures and attribute them to Forbes, whose teams spend a year compiling the data. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Jan. 19, 2018 @ 8:52 a.m.

much of what they find out had any impact on our ( regular workaday citizens) lives ?

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Don Bauder Jan. 20, 2018 @ 3:07 p.m.

Murphyjunk: The Forbes 400 data -- information on the 400 richest Americans -- SHOIULD have impact on people's everyday lives. That is because the data show poignantly how rich the rich really are. Most people don't know how monstrous the gap between the upper 1 percent, or one-tenth of 1 percent, and the rest of us, really is. But the government just passed a tax bill in which 85 percent of the savings go to the very rich. Looking at the Forbes 400 data each year will help you understand the cruel and outrageous distribution of wealth and income in this country. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Jan. 18, 2018 @ 12:40 p.m.

This is the list of 20 finalists from Amazon. The only finalist west of the Rocky Mountains is Los Angeles.

None

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 2:23 p.m.

Ponzi: Denver is only slightly east of the Rockies. Why would Amazon want a second headquarters on the West Coast? Its current headquarters is there: Seattle. I had to chuckle at the Forbes fumbling because I don't think San Diegans ever thought their town was in the running, for one of the very reasons Forbes flubbed: propinquity to an international airport. San Diego's lack of adequate airport facilities was always considered three strikes against it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 2:25 p.m.

Mike Murphy: I doubt if any San Diegans seriously considered that Amazon would put its second headquarters in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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AlexClarke Jan. 19, 2018 @ 5:30 p.m.

But the idiot "city fathers" of Chula Vista worked hard, read spent money, to put together a "plan" that never had a chance. San Diego has never, and never will be, a transportation hub. The cost of living is too high and the availability of housing is too low to allow for 50,000 jobs.

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Don Bauder Jan. 20, 2018 @ 3:12 p.m.

AlexClarke: And Chula Vista was only one of hundreds of U.S. cities and towns trying to bribe Amazon into putting its second headquarters in their home towns. The whole thing is disgusting. Go online to an outfit named Good Jobs First. It keeps tracks of government bribes to companies to relocate. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Jan. 18, 2018 @ 2:58 p.m.

Thirty years ago very roughly, my father and I, who were both stock investors decided that Forbes was getting it wrong too often. Oh, it was the most entertaining of the business magazines, one that I looked forward to receiving and reading. Afterwards neither he nor I subscribed to it. One of the features of the mag was a column by a guy named Srully Blotnick (yes that's how it was spelled) who was eventually unmasked as a fraud, but only after being in the magazine for something going on thirty years. He had totally hoodwinked the magazine with a piece of fabrication that took some real nerve to pull off. He was an engaging writer, and often had some excellent advice or observations that cut through the fog. But he wasn't who he claimed to be, and it took Forbes a very long time to get wise.

So, I"ll not testify to the accuracy or inaccuracy of Forbes, because I never see it.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 7:52 p.m.

Visduh: I don't know the Blotnick story. But I will say that in the 1960s, 1970s and well beyond, Forbes was the best business magazine, because it had guts. Its editor, James Michaels, was the best in the business. It had columnists chatting about the stock market. Like all market seers, they were often wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 19, 2018 @ 11:06 a.m.

Visduh: I would like to add that when I was with Business Week in the 1960s and 1970s, the publication fell hook, line, and sinker for the conglomerates --those fast-growing companies that would pump up their stocks and use them as inflated currencies to buy anything: steel mills, grocery store chains, sports equipment makers. I think I was the only one on the staff to say loudly that the conglomerates had been built on fraud, their managements often had organized crime connections, and they would fall apart.

They did fall apart. There are a couple of exceptions today -- Berkshire Hathaway, for example. Business Week (long after I left) did puff cover stories on Enron and other frauds. Forbes, on the other hand, had a very good record spotting fraud. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Jan. 18, 2018 @ 5 p.m.

My bet for Amazon HQ2 is Atlanta. Good public transportation, huge airport, Georgia Tech, lots of tech people to poach from other large corporations, low housing costs (compared to most of the other cities).

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Visduh Jan. 18, 2018 @ 5:57 p.m.

I'm in agreement with you. If an up-and-coming corporation wants to set up a second headquarters, it should be looking for an area that has space and even if it will only have offices, should be able to accommodate the staffers. California and many other areas just don't have low-cost housing or short commutes. (San Diego sure as heck doesn't.)

Amazon could consider a few of those cities that have been left out in recent decades. Detroit, St Louis, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh could be considered, and one of those might offer the necessary attributes. There sure would be a major welcome in any of those! But in reality, I suspect that the winners will continue to win and the losers will continue to decline.

And that's how it's gonna be.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:31 p.m.

Visduh: You are right on that. Corporations are always telling their shareholders how much they save the company, thus boosting profits.But if savings were so important, why don't they move the headquarters to Cleveland, where rents of corporate space are exceedingly low? They don't move to Cleveland because top management would have to live there. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 6:31 p.m.

I also bet on Atlanta. And if Forbes jumps into the prognostication, I wouldn't trust what they have to say. As mediabiasfactcheck.com reports, Forbes "Has a right of center bias in reporting and political affiliation." And they use lots of non-journalist bloggers online. That definitely makes them substandard, even if others don't agree.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:38 p.m.

dwbat: Forbes declined after the death of the senior Forbes. His son, who ran for president in the Republican primaries, is nowhere near as good as his father was. On the other hand, magazines in general have declined in quality, as have newspapers. There are exceptions: the New Yorker is still a great magazine. There are great newspapers -- NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. Some magazines still sell well, such as the ones that are purchased in grocery stores, featuring movie stars, sex tips, etc.

Unfortunately, our president reads The Enquirer, and he takes it as gospel. That's where he got the idea that Sen. Cruz's father was in on the JFK assassination. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 9:51 p.m.

The Washington Post has gotten even better since Jeff Bezos bought it. They have added many reporters at a time when papers are laying them off. Bravo to Bezos. As for Vanity Fair, it will be quite interesting to see what their new editor-in-chief does with it.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 10:35 p.m.

dwbat: I agree completely that Bezos has improved the Post greatly. It had declined after Watergate, but Bezos brought it back. I find some good analyses in Vanity Fair now. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 7:59 p.m.

Ponzi: Atlanta is a good bet. So is Dallas, which is similarly blessed with excellent transportation and low housing costs. There are a lot of variables that go into this decision. Unfortunately, one of the biggest variables is the size of he bribe the city pays. Politely, it is called a "financial enticement," but call it what it really is. Texas is notorious for paying the highest bribes for companies to relocate to the state. Best, Don Bauder

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swell Jan. 18, 2018 @ 6:31 p.m.

It would be nice to have a secure base of well paid employment here. Amazon is not ideal for us. Qualcomm is the model we should look for. It grew from a discovery at UCSD and gradually made a place among us. UCSD could do it again, or one of the biotech companies nearby. Here's more about the frenzy to attract Amazon:

" More than 230 cities had applied to become the future location of the internet giant's "HQ2," dangling tax incentives and other goodies, hoping to turn their hometowns into boom towns. "

I don't recall our city among them. We wouldn't have had a chance anyway: high cost of living, scarcity of real estate, full employment, etc. The 'winning' city will have given much in incentives that will cost their citizens for many years to come. If San Diego had been chosen, our housing crisis would become far worse, property taxes would increase, infrastructure: water, sewer, electric, streets; would suffer and more homeless would arrive. Be happy that we didn't 'win'.

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 6:36 p.m.

Well, the serious proposal to Amazon in this area came from Chula Vista, not from San Diego.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:42 p.m.

dwbat: I doubt that Amazon ever took Chula Vista seriously. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Jan. 18, 2018 @ 9:54 p.m.

Obviously they didn't. I wouldn't put a huge company there either, if it were my choice. They'll do fine with their new tourism complex.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 10:37 p.m.

dwbat: Remember that a proposal for the same kind of tourism complex never made it more than ten years ago. It's possible it will work this time. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:01 p.m.

Swell, for Christs sake.

Please research the Qualcomm background again. The technology was developed at Linkabit. The Qualcomm founders were alumni of MIT and Cornell. Qualcomm’s flagship product was OmniTracs, tracking long-haul truck cargo.

The cellphone was invented by Del Mar resident and scientist Martin Cooper at Bell Labs in 1973. Jacobs was still a professor at UCSD in 1972. HE DID NOT INVENT THE CELL PHONE. He learned how to license the nascent chip technology. The early designs for CDMA (the technology that made Jacobs rich) was actually discovered by Russian scientist Leonid Kupriyanovich in 1935.

Jacobs was a professor at UCSD, calling him an "inventor" is like calling a possum "pretty." He just made improvements on inventions that were discovered when he was about 2 years old. UCSD didn't have an iota of participation in the Linkabit venture. The only connection would be recruiting engineers from USCD, and of course India where Jacobs could exploit cheap labor.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:54 p.m.

Ponzi: Jacobs and Viterbi and a third fellow who wasn't there long founded Lilnkabit. Qualcomm did emerge from Lilnkabit. I don't know if UCSD was involved with Linkabit, but I still wonder how the head of UCSD,who went on to head the entire UCal system,wound up with a bundle of Qualcomm stock and a seat on the board. I have always wondered how much he paid for that stock. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Jan. 19, 2018 @ 8:30 p.m.

Are you referring to Pradeep Khosla?

Jacobs founded Linkabit which was later sold to MA/COM, which was later acquired by SAIC. There was never a formal UCSD relationship. One only needs to look at all the litigation Qualcomm consistently finds itself engaged in. It's a cutthroat business where misappropriating intellectual property is always the centerpiece. The moxie to essentially steal and then defend the theft with huge legal war chests is how Jacobs built Qualcomm.

Broadcom will acquire them and the Jacobs clan will be unseated from the C-suite and Board. It's about time.

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Don Bauder Jan. 20, 2018 @ 6:54 p.m.

Ponzi: No. Leonard Kleinrock was the third and he left after a short time. Best, Don Bauder

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swell Jan. 19, 2018 @ 9:54 a.m.

Ponzi: my post was about the nature of Qualcomm's growth in SD. Not about it's patents or management personnel. That growth was manageable, a large intrusion by Amazon would not be. Nor would it be in their interest. But feel free to inform us of the internal intrigue of Qualcomm's development. Very interesting.

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Don Bauder Jan. 19, 2018 @ 11:44 a.m.

swell: Qualcomm has been over-aggressive in some markets -- note the overseas lawsuits against it. The company has made some mistakes. But it is a good company. It would be tragic if it were taken over by Broadcom. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 20, 2018 @ 6:55 p.m.

swell: Yes, I thought that Ponzi's history was quite interesting. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 8:41 p.m.

swell: I certainly hope Amazon doesn't make its decision based on the biggest bribe. I think the company is too smart for that. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Jan. 19, 2018 @ 8:54 a.m.

logic would dictate an are with no extreme climate swings

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Don Bauder Jan. 19, 2018 @ 11:47 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Of the 20 survivors, most appear to be in the East. A good number of those have large climate swings. But I believe you are right: climate swings will be one of the variables. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 20, 2018 @ 3:22 p.m.

swell: I agree. Subsidizing companies to relocate is often a losing game -- for the city that shelled out the money. Soon, it becomes clear that the city had not been able to afford the bribe it promised. Local government goes deeply into the hole. Education suffers. Services plunge. After the company has stayed as long as it had promised to stay, it leaves, departing a broke city. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Jan. 18, 2018 @ 6:52 p.m.

I never thought San Diego had a chance. If Broadcom wins its takeover of Qualcomm, I believe San Diego will only have one Fortune 500 company left; Sempra. San Diego is still a Navy town, with the remaining “largest employers” being the city and county governments, education and healthcare providers.

San Diego, the city, cannot help much in incentives because the pension time-bomb is still ticking. I’m glad Amazon didn’t include San Diego because it would have made our traffic and housing costs even worse.

San Diego doesn’t meet many of Bezo’s wish list. International Airport? In name only. Highly skilled workforce? Why does Qualcomm have to load up on 2,000 new Indian and other foreign H-1B’s every year? So, no large talent pool. Public transportation? The “trolley” is a social engineering experiment in San Diego, it is not in the league of BART, CTA, MTA, or MARTA. “Affordable housing” and “San Diego” in the same sentence is a joke.

As Don said, why would Bezos want another west coast hub? Atlanta and its excellent airport can make short trips to Washington D.C., Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas and of course all the non-stop international connections. Some point out that Bezos owns a large home in D.C. where he owns the Washington Post. But that is not a factor. Bezos also owns homes in Beverly Hills, Manhattan, ranches in Texas and other states; Bezos is the 25th largest landowner in the U.S.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2018 @ 9 p.m.

Ponzi: Very good points. San Diego has great weather and good culture. It has lots of golf courses. A good friend told me this week that he now plays a round of golf at local courses for $25, when he used to pay $100. San Diego's location is good for companies that do their manufacturing in Mexico and keep management in the U.S. But you are right; the San Diego economy is once again pushed by the military. Real estate used to be tied with the military, but that has sunk a bit. Best, Don Bauder

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