Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said this morning that he’s hired the city’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer. The move appears to be part of Suarez’s larger effort to turn Miami into a hub for tech entrepreneurs and companies, including crypto startups.
Saif Ishoof, Suarez’s pick for the job, is a Miami-based lawyer, and the current vice president of engagement at Florida International University.
Suarez made the announcement Monday morning on Bloomberg’s live news show, Quicktake.
Miami Mayor @FrancisSuarez is appointing Saif Ishoof as the city’s first chief technology officer.
Ishoof is vice president of engagement for Florida International University.
— Tim Stenovec (@timsteno) January 25, 2021
Suarez told NBC News that the city’s Chief Technology Officer will “provide concierge services” for tech firms coming to Miami, presumably to help them feel a little more welcome.
He’s been specifically courting the crypto industry, taking meetings with the Winklevoss twins, who run the crypto exchange Gemini, as well as executives from DeFi initiatives. During his chat with the Winklevoss twins, Suarez said he wants Miami to be “the most crypto competitive city in the world,” and mentioned potential plans to accept city fees in crypto. mining companies and
.@FrancisSuarez it was an honor to meet you, chat DeFi and how building
on #Ethereum can benefit the city with @preston_vanloon. We applaud you for the amazing things you continue to do for #Miami and are here to help you any way that we can. https://t.co/40MEjxQENv pic.twitter.com/xZAhZF5ob3
— Cryptex Finance (@CryptexFinance) January 25, 2021
That meeting was part of a fireside chat-style “cafecito” video series, in which he’s spoken to private sector executives about how Miami can be a global center for innovation in business and tech. And he’s spent a decent amount of time promoting the city on Twitter, where he’s talked with Elon Musk about building tunnels under Miami, and interacted with crypto influencer Anthony Pompliano. In a recent interview, Suarez said Peter Thiel and Jack Dorsey have both reached out to him privately.
Bloomberg asked him about Musk’s tunnel idea, and suggested that the city’s water table might make such a thing impossible.
Suarez replied, “Not only is it doable, it’s been done,” citing the Port of Miami Tunnel (which connects two islands in Biscayne Bay) as proof that tunnels could work; the context is somewhat different, though—the Port Tunnel runs beneath the port, and a network of tunnels beneath the city itself might present entirely new challenges.
Cars & trucks stuck in traffic generate megatons of toxic gases & particulate, but @boringcompany road tunnels under Miami would solve traffic & be an example to the world.
Spoke with @RonDeSantisFL about tunnels last week. If Governor & Mayor want this done, we will do it.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 18, 2021
Asked about whether or not his plans for Miami are a means to greater political ambitions outside of the city, Suarez suggested that for now, he’s just focused on doing his job.
If he does well, he said, and if his family is willing to come along for the ride, “there will be many opportunities to serve at a higher level.”