Across Silicon Valley, You’re In With an Audi
RYAN TATE, Wired Magazine, 09.07.12
Emily Armstrong, a product manager at SYPartners, bought her Audi A4 six months ago. “I feel like, in San Francisco, everyone has one,” she says of her car. “My God, there are a million of them.” Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
In tech’s epicenter, they seem to be ubiquitous: idling in front of venture capitalists’ Sand Hill Road offices, rolling down the block in San Francisco’s South of Market Area, and cruising the corporate campuses at Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
They’re not entrepreneurs, though they seem tightly correlated with startup hustle. They are Audis, a breed of German luxury car that seems to have uniquely captured the attention of the young and elite in Silicon Valley, where elegant user interfaces count as much as raw performance and where status symbols should be as subtle as an unreleased iPhone in the pocket of your Japanese-denim jeans. “One of the things I like about their cars is that they are technologically advanced, but understated,” says Andy Rubin, who heads Google’s Android division after selling the mobile operating system to his employer for an estimated $50 million. “I am a big fan of Audi, and have owned many different models.”
Just as Northern California’s predilection for hot tubs and BMWs revolutionized how the swinging bachelors of the 1980s indulged themselves, so too could Silicon Valley’s budding love affair with Audi affect a paradigm shift in how hard-chargers throughout the country tool around town. “They’re everywhere,” says Spencer Chen, head of business development at mobile software company Appcelerator. “It’s the new entry car into the venture capital class.”
What does seem unexpected is that so many deep-pocketed young Turks are buying Audis over the BMW, a rival German brand that was for many years the ultimate automotive signifier of being an up-and-coming young executive in the San Francisco Bay Area. It seems that BMW’s success as an emblem of prestige is exactly what has done it in with many buyers.
“The problem with BMW is that there is a really high douchebag factor,” says Jacob Mullins, a senior associate at Shasta Ventures, now on his third Audi in seven years, a 2011 A5 convertible. “It’s just more prickish.”
That sentiment is insinuated in one form or another by a number of other Audi buyers. “We were looking for a sedan that wasn’t quite as prestigious or snooty as the BMW, but that performed awesomely,” says Emily Armstrong, a project manager in the San Francisco office of consultancy SYPartners.
The Audi is, of course, more than just an anti-BMW. Rob Coneybeer, one of Mullins’ Shasta Ventures colleagues, owns both, and praises the Audi’s interior, ability to handle bad weather, and highway performance. Armstrong says she fell for her six-month-old A4’s looks and four-wheel drive, a useful feature for San Francisans who want to navigate icy roads winding up to the slopes of Lake Tahoe, but who don’t want to endure the scorn local environmentalists tend to heap on sport utility vehicles.
Full article: http://www.wired.com/business/2012/0...innys-in-tech/