Florida has a bad reputation. Mostly this is swapping weird for bad, but that’s what you get with a state that’s basically 10 different communities. Part-of-the-reason Florida is this way is because of migration, starting in the early part of the century. At first railroads brought people to Florida. That was okay. But as automobiles improved an allowed for autonomy—I’ll go where I please when I please—Florida improved as well. Christopher Knowlton’s book, Bubble in the Sun is the story of the 1920’s Florida land boom but the precursor to speculation was transpiration: “The resorts towns would remain no more than winter retreats until better, more numerous roads could be built, freeing potential year-round residents from their dependency on the railroad.” A generation later another technology brought people to the sunshine state when air conditioning went from one-in-six homes in 1960 to three-in-six homes by 1980. Think of Florida. Think of the beaches, the bars, the boats. Think of white sand, blue water, and Mickey Mouse red. All that awesome stuff is thanks to asphalt and air-conditioning. Thanks to the boring.
Charle Songhurst explained this idea to Patrick O’Shaughnessy.
“You really don’t want to be sitting there in San Francisco trying to close your candidate when John Collison is trying to close the candidate as the alternative—because John’s going to win…Whereas if you’re hiring that person in Kiev and their other option is working in outsourced IT for Deutsche Bank it’s a much much easier win. What you want to find is the incredibly qualified people in weakly competitive labor markets.”
“Trying to be smarter than other people is very hard and doesn’t work very often. Trying to have an insight that you get because you sit in a different information flow just seems exponentially easier.”
“If you pick two axes, boredom and complexity. You want highly boring highly complex because everything in the universe is a supply-and-demand curve and you get an insufficient supply of entrepreneurs in the highly boring, highly complex space and therefore elevated returns.”
The central question to Songhurst’s approach is where? Where should we recruit? Where should I get my information? Where should we compete? There are places where things are easier. Non-consumption, new JTBDs, or the funny.
Florida’s development was boring, and Songhurst would have invested. Now though? Nah, he’s looking elsewhere.