Thanks to Forbes contributor Scott Allison, we now know a little bit more about what a Tony Hsieh/Zappos/Downtown Project junket looks like. In his article, Allison describes his crashpad, a luxury apartment in the Ogden, and a spunky, if small, crowd of would-be startups. There's not a lot of new information for Las Vegas readers, but one part did give me pause. Allison and his partner came to town on business, and stayed to check out the tech scene.
On our short trip, my number one priority was to meet as many of the Vegas Tech Community as I could. This was a little harder than I thought, I actually ended up meeting more people like myself, visitors from out of town coming to check it out. There were others from the SF bay area, like me, but even people from as far afield as Wisconsin, New York and even Sweden.
It's good — no, great — that Hsieh and company are attracting outside talent to downtown Las Vegas. An infusion of intelligent, ambitious business people certainly couldn't hurt our economic or cultural prospects. But you've got to wonder how committed they will be to the community, and I mean the whole community, not just the Ogden tech bubble.
With that said, I think the development is a good one. The article is mostly positive, avoiding most of the ham-handed Vegas cliches and focusing on the energy and accessibility of the Vegas tech scene. One of the most surprising things about the story is that no one is scoffing about it in the comments section. Instead, at least two responses extolled Las Vegas as a tech community. At least one other reader took offense at the author's "obvious disdain" for Las Vegas, which might refer to the author's description of downtown as "dilapidated" and "cheap." I think the author was just being honest. If you compare downtown Las Vegas to Silicon Valley or San Francisco, it is cheap and dilapidated. Allison didn't dwell on that stuff, and neither did the readers who felt compelled to comment. If Las Vegas is hungry for a little respect, this article, and the comments on it, show that we're starting to earn a little bit.