Community Contributor
10:09 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Tech CEO To Phillip Levine: Miami And Miami Beach Are One

Editor's Note: This is a community contributor post.  The views expressed here are those of the author and not WLRN or WLRN-Miami Herald News.

Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine was quoted Jan. 22 in the Washington Post saying "Miami Beach is never going to be a high tech hub. As much as it sounds great, it's sexy, that's not who we are."
Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine was quoted Jan. 22 in the Washington Post saying "Miami Beach is never going to be a high tech hub. As much as it sounds great, it's sexy, that's not who we are."
Credit ANDREW ULOZA / Miami Herald

Mayor Levine,

Congratulations on your installation as the Mayor of Miami Beach. When I first moved to Miami I lived on Ocean Drive, and it still holds a warm place in my heart.

But your comments in the Washington Post [about dropping the idea of Miami Beach as an aspiring Silicon Valley] give me pause as the CEO of a Miami-based tech firm, Kairos.

I believe that -- as you said in your response -- the reporter took some liberties, but if I focus only on the direct quotes, I see phrases like:

"[Miami Beach as a tech hub] is the dumbest idea in the world," and “Miami Beach is never going to be a high-tech hub."

Negative words like those hurt the collective efforts of those of us trying everyday to expand an already dynamic tech scene here in Miami. We have companies that are on their way to becoming billion-dollar successes: OpenEnglish, CareCloud, KidoZen. And publicly traded tech companies like Microsoft and Citrix Systems have headquarters or regional offices here in South Florida.

Terms like "dumb" and "never" don't inspire people to start a new company or invest in expanding their businesses.

In your new role, I would hope that you see just how far your words now travel.

When I recruit employees from New York or San Francisco and they come across this article, how will they feel about moving here? How will they feel about working for Kairos?

Miami Beach is an excellent place for start-ups. It has reasonable residential rental rates in certain areas. It's walkable and does not require a car. It has cab service, and maybe soon it will have UBER.

Startups don't need big offices. They are born in garages, in living rooms, at dining room tables, and in Starbucks. Miami Beach has plenty of those.

Those firms that grow out of those spaces and move to Wynwood or Lincoln Road are success stories. They are part of a fabric that you should be proud of, not talk down.

When LeBron James said "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach" the world does not understand that the Arena is in downtown Miami. People don't differentiate Miami from Miami Beach nationally or globally. Even here, people live, work, and move between Miami Beach and Miami.

Our words impact our neighbors. We are one Miami.

Brian Brackeen is the CEO of Kairos, a facial-recognition firm based in Wynwood. Kairos was selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 24 start-ups in the country.