Visiting Kiwi Landing Pad

A recent foray from my home in East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area to the grittier South of Market District (SOMA) in San Francisco.

SOMA is bordered by the US 101 freeway to the southwest. This North/South freeway runs through the states of Washington, Oregon and California. The US101 joins the commercial heartland of San Francisco to Silicon Valley proper: Santa Clara County, including the city of San Jose, dubbed, “the capital”, of Silicon Valley.
This is the Northern end of Silicon Valley. A corridor of tech innovation that begins in Southern San Francisco. San Francisco is located on the Northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula that separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean and runs down “The Peninsula”, to Silicon Valley proper.

The stretch of the US101 that runs from San Francisco to San Jose highlighted in red.

The stretch of the US101 that runs from San Francisco to San Jose highlighted in red.

A note: Living in Northern California is to be acquainted with the phenomenon of geographical nicknames based on whimsey  rather than logic.

Locals call the stretch of land between San Francisco down to Santa Clara County “The Peninsula”.

This label differentiates this area from the City and County of San Francisco, which is also part of the entire geographical area of the San Franciscan Peninsula but not part of, “The Peninsula”.

My SO and I are driving into SOMA for meetings at New Zealand  business incubator; the Kiwi Landing Pad. Then we are going to the St Francis Yacht Club in the afternoon.

The youth sailing teams are racing in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the New Zealand teams are looking good.

Driving in: A major event in the Bay area recently has been the closure of the Bay Bridge last week and the re-opening of the new Eastern span last night. Today we get to be among the first commuters to drive it for the first time.

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is a marvel of modern engineering. It has a price tag of 6.3 billion and a construction timeline of over a decade. Part of the design includes the world’s longest suspension span.

Bay bridge

The Bay Bridge. Fresh, funky and futuristic.

We traverse the Bay Bridge, drop off the US 101 onto 5th St and take a right onto Clara St.

SOMA - Entrepreneur Town.

SOMA – Entrepreneur Town

Disembarking onto the fragrant Harrison street, we encounter the sometimes distasteful odor of San Francisco city streets.

Harrison St predominantly smells of pee.

Negotiating a homeless man and a condom wrapper, we walk to the building that houses Kiwi Landing Pad and Startup HQ.

For over two decades I have been working at or visiting random warehouses that have nurtured fledgling Tech Start-ups. This is a high energy environment.

We are greeted enthusiastically by fellow Kiwis. Our conversation promptly turns irreverent. There is a humorous discussion about the possible provision of a mobile keg to KLP.

We arrive on the day of installation of the office artwork:




A  stylised Kiwi  (top left) can engender a bit of homesickness in the most hardened of expats.

Flightless no more, Kiwis are flocking to other countries in droves.

Stepping off the plane at SFO, motivated individuals can get a berth in the inclusive environment that has been set up at the Kiwi Landing Pad. This brings them in contact with valuable experience and advice of others who have gone before.

The artwork has been organised by Kiwi intern. Annaleisha Rae

Annaleisha is a 21 year old intern from the Auckland University of Technology, in her final year of a Communications Degree.

The conversation turns to law and order.

2 people were shot in this district recently. The door to the building had been kicked in the morning of the shootings. Our Kiwi residents in SOMA were aware that a shooter was possibly on the loose and couldn’t secure the building.A few hearts stopped monetarily but the shooter was promptly arrested later that day and life in KLP went on as normal.

Annaleisha feeds us updates about the races underway on the San Francisco Bay. The gorgeous Annaleisha has a long yachting pedigree; her dad is Tony Rae, a grinder with Emirates Team New Zealand.
She adds a touch of class to the mostly male cohort resident at KLP. However, there are female residents along with dynamic San Francisco Director Catherine Robinson blazing a trail for other business minded New Zealand women.

Annaleisha informs us that our youth teams have won the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.

We all, “Whoop whoop” in glee at our nations yachting prowess and prepare to depart KLP and move on to the waterfront.





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