Joe Stump on How to Pick a City That Best Matches Your Interests

In Chapter 3 of 17 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, Internet entrepreneur and SimpleGeo CTO Joe Stump shares how living in multiple cities has informed what he looks for in choosing a city where to live. Stump looks for high walkability, good public transportation, bike friendly streets, and high speed broadband access when searching. After time in Seattle and Boulder, Stump returns to San Francisco, a place that meets his criteria best. Stump is the co-founder and CTO at SimpleGeo (, a San Francisco-based mobile location infrastructure services company. Previously Stump was Lead Architect at Digg. He programs in PHP, Python, Django and enjoys scaling websites. He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems from Eastern Michigan University.


Erik Michielsen: What’s been your approach in determining which city is best for you to live?

Joe Stump: Um I would say - If you asked my mom she would say I’ve been doing a lot of statistical sampling. As far as I can remember, I’ve lived in a very small town in the middle of a corn field, a very small town in the middle of kind of in the middle of a tourist area, a college town, a mountain town and then two west coast - two pretty major west coast cities, San Francisco and Seattle. So, my approach - the things that I look for after living in all those different places, the things that I look for are a very high walk ability score, kind of my minimum entry is I need to be able to, within a block be able to get to a bar and a restaurant that I wouldn’t mind eating at regularly and a bodega of some sort.

Number two, public transportation. Number three would be biking, I do a lot of biking so lot’s of bike paths and stuff are pretty important to me, Boulder was amazing for that, San Francisco less so, Seattle even less so than that. So, those are probably the top three things I look for, oh and the last one, and that’s one that’s arguably the most important is I have to have access to high-speed bandwidth.

Erik Michielsen: So why San Francisco?

Joe Stump: Um, San Francisco, so you know I lived in Seattle for three and a half years, I love the Pacific Northwest, if I wasn’t a computer geek I would probably still be in Seattle, so San Francisco has a lot of the things I liked about Seattle, it’s laid back, extremely liberal, probably a little militant on the liberal side for my taste, but nice. You know you can still get to the mountains fairly easily, water’s there, those are all good things I like about it, but I think that what keeps me in San Francisco as opposed to Seattle or even So-Cal is really two things, one, San Francisco is a Mecca for nerds, I am a nerd, this is where my people live, and in conjunction with that my salary is now probably fifty percent higher than it would be anywhere else in the world.

I mean judging by looking at me, I’m not what you call a mainstream, normal, nine to five kind of guy. In San Francisco, those people that are considered normal everywhere else in the world are actually the weirdoes in San Francisco, and the weirdoes everywhere else are the norm. Like perfect example of why I think San Francisco is like, it’s Mecca to nerds but also just weirdoes in general. So, we have Frank Chu for instance he’s like a beloved San Francisco crazy person essentially, walks around with signs that say like “the galaxy of twelve soldiers” or whatever are coming, and he’s generally accepted as like the mascot for San Francisco.