Miami Tech & Startup News

Jeb Bush, Keith Rabois, and more discuss the intersection of tech and policy at Miami Tech Summit

Jeb Bush, Keith Rabois, and more discuss the intersection of tech and policy at Miami Tech Summit

By Riley Kaminer

What is the intersection of technology and policy, and what role does #MiamiTech have to play in all this? That was the question on the minds of policymakers, entrepreneurs, and investors at the 2023 Miami Tech Summit on Wednesday, hosted at the Pérez Art Museum in Downtown Miami.

Keith Rabois, a general partner at Founders Fund and co-founder of OpenStore, headlined the event, now in its second year and co-founded by Justin Sayfie and Jose Felix Diaz.

“Miami tech is not only crypto – and it never was,” said Rabois when asked about our local ecosystem. 

“Everywhere you look, there’s data that just proves this is a perfect place to build a company,” he shared, pointing specifically to a recent report from Stripe that showed an 89% growth in breakout companies in Miami in 2021-2022 compared to 2016-2017.

Rabois also emphasized the diversity inherent to our local ecosystem, as well as the safety of the Magic City in comparison to his former home of San Francisco. He also explained that selling potential hires on Miami has been relatively easy.

Rabois has high ambitions for the role he can play in the Miami Tech movement. He referenced a tweet from venture capitalist Bill Gurley that for Miami to be a successful tech hub, it needs three $10 billion companies. “Chewy is one, I’ll create number two, and then someone else has to create number three,” he said, signaling that this third company might even come from a former employee of his.

As for Rabois’ thoughts on Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter: “I subscribe to Lincoln’s adage that you can judge somebody by who their enemies are. And given that a lot of people who are evil hate him, I think he’s doing a great job.” That said, Rabois was not in agreement with Musk and AI experts who have called for a pause in AI development – citing the importance of the US competing with China. “That would be unilateral disarmament. It would be like the same people who were running around in the 1960s and 70s arguing for nuclear disarmament in the US.”

Meanwhile, former Florida governor Jeb Bush also opined on the state of Miami tech. A Miami resident since the 80s, Bush expressed cautious excitement about the growth of our city. “Our income has to grow as fast or faster than the cost of living,” he said. “And a lot of people’s income hasn’t.”

Still, Bush was bullish on the transformative power of startups, particularly in the edtech space. “This is the coolest time to be alive,” he said, noting that tech tools can help create better outcomes for students. And he and his son are getting involved firsthand in some of this excitement. The father-son duo has invested half a billion dollars into 20 late-stage businesses.

Jacob Helberg, Commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and author of The Wires of War: Technology and the Global Struggle for Power, shared his thoughts on the role tech plays in our international disputes.

“At the end of the day, the US really needs to have a comprehensive strategy on how to think about foreign technologies, both in the US as well as allied countries,” asserted Helberg, arguing that TikTok poses a cybersecurity risk.

During a panel entitled “Will Washington Stop the Rise of App-Based Financial Services?,” lawyers from Robinhood and Fidelity ultimately answered the question in the negative. “Washington is very much still figuring this out – this is unfolding in real time,” said Robinhood’s Lucas Moskowitz.

And Winston Warrior, a marketing lead from Amazon, shared how the company’s satellite technology can help provide high-speed internet access to un- and under-served communities. That’s very relevant in Miami, where only 81.5% of homes subscribe to broadband internet – compared to 90% in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

As the Summit wrapped up, more is in store for Miami Tech Month that continues Thursday with the two-day eMerge Americas conference featuring a keynote by Tom Brady, Eric Schmidt and the Startup Showcase pitch competition finale. Next week, Miami Tech Week kicks off with the Founders Fund’s signature event, Atomic’s Builders Summit and more events. For hiring companies and tech job seekers, the Venture Miami Tech Hiring Fair returns to Miami Dade College April 26, with a first-ever Tech Talent Summit on April 25.


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Riley Kaminer