Vator (@vatortv), founded by Bambi Francisco Roizen (@bambi100, personal blog), is a self-proclaimed "voice of the entrepreneur" started in 2007 by Francisco Roizen ("BFR" for the rest of this article). Vator is currently working with Oakland Forward (a.k.a. mayoral candidate Bryan Parker's campaign organization) to host an Oakland start-up competition, effectively jumpstarting Oakland as a (post-San Francisco?) "tech hub". For a critical perspective on the link between the "Oakland tech hub" hype and gentrification, see the article Emerging Tech Hub.

According to the Vator website:

"Vator (short for innovator) aims to help great entrepreneurs find funding, and for investors to get in on the ground floor of tomorrow's leading companies. Founded and run by award-winning journalist Bambi Francisco, Vator has a vibrant social network, events and news platform."

Vator Splash Oakland Tech Start-Up Competition

Vator Splash is a tech start-up competition that has been hosted by Vator (and sponsored by?)  for the past 4 years. This is the first year Splash will come to Oakland. For why this is so, scroll down.

Vator and Bryan Parker will be hosting 15 finalists of their Oakland startups competition on May 6-7, 2014 in Jack London Square. Winners will get connected with VCs, in-kind prizes worth $30,000 (including a consultation with KPMG, etc. All finalists will get presentation coaching with Butterfield Speaks and a year-long subscription to Rackspace. For details, click here.

As many as 1,000 attendees are anticipated to attend presentations, panels and “fireside chats” at the Jack London Market building at 55 Harrison Street in Jack London Square. Participants will follow two tracks of content designed to educate startup tech entrepreneurs as well as venture capital (VC) and angel investors. Speakers include luminaries in the venture capital world as well as civic and business leaders who will talk about how to start and scale successful companies and trends that are shaping future tech investment. The extensive speaker slate includes Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Corporation and Kapor Center for Social Impact; Sungevity co-founder Danny Kennedy; Blue Bottle Coffee founder & CEO James Freeman and Brian Wong, of Kiip.  

Another highlight of Vator Splash Oakland will be on-stage presentations from finalists in two, concurrent tech startup competitions that launched in January: the Vator Splash competition, open to any US-based tech startup, and the Oaktown Tech competition, sponsored by Oakland Forward, for Oakland and neighboring East Bay startups. Finalists must survive two rounds of judging, competing for recognition and an estimated $40,000 in in-kind services and sit down meetings with major VCs and angel investors. To qualify for the competition, startups must be under 3 years old and have under $2 million in outside funding. The City of Oakland is among the growing list of major sponsors for the event. 

Why Oakland?

BFR touches on this question in a March article published on Live-Work Oakland, a who's-who in tech website built by Oakland Local, in partnership with the Kapor Foundation. She states:

"Firstly, I live in the East Bay. Secondly, I like the Oakland A’s and the movie, Fruitvale Station. For years, Oakland residents encouraged me to move Splash to their town. Having lived in San Francisco, it seemed the fastest way to lose attendees. My perception was that it was far and unsafe. Over time, my perception began to change. I found myself attached to Oakland’s scrappy baseball team – the A’s – and what they came to represent: a resourceful team facing outsized challenges. The movie Fruitvale Station brought home another Oakland asset – its residents – facing overwhelming odds amid a world forging ahead with prosperity. The movie is, as I wrote at the time in the fall 2013, “a candid look at the murky reality and morality of life in an environment with few opportunities.” My takeaway: To reduce the probability of Fruitvale Station incidents, Oakland desperately needed economic development. Oakland, a place with a diverse, passionate community, deserved the prosperity that was accruing to its wealthier Bay Area neighbors."

- "Vator Splash: Why I’m bringing my tech conference to Oakland"

According to the city administrator's newsletter, " picked Oakland quite intentionally as the launch pad for the inaugural two-day expanded conference."

Oakland's "Entrepreneurial Renaissance"

Reading deeper into her "attachment" to the A's, BFR stated in a article that she wants a new downtown ballpark to be the new Oakland's biggest "anchor tenant" (a large center of economic activity that attracts the launch and development of smaller, nearby businesses). She believes that smart investment in tech will naturally create jobs across a broad spectrum of Oakland. OK but wait wait--what about gentrification?

"We need to be thoughtful about how all of this comes together, but the moment is now.  The A’s have only a two year lease in the Coliseum, and if Oakland doesn’t figure out how to capitalize on the spillover from San Francisco, some other region will."

-BFR, same article

How can we be "thoughtful" about the flows of humans and capital when profit windows are our conflict of interest?

So what does Bryan Parker have to say about all this?

Bryan Parker has yet to mention the term "gentrification" in his campaign website (source: site/word-specific Google search). Please update this statement the day a post is made regarding his position! Does he talk about gentrification elsewhere that we can verify? Please include links to these resources here!

Related Articles

This article is part of a series on Gentrification in Oakland.