Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween 2017!!! + Halloween in the Park (Part XI)

Keeping with San Jose Blog tradition, in October we have a Wednesday Wishlist post for Halloween in the Park. Since tomorrow is already November, I thought it might be neat to do this post on Halloween itself. The idea is to build on the momentum that Christmas in the Park brings to San Jose each year and create something of similar scale for the month of October with Halloween in the Park! A lot of the infrastructure such as wiring, lighting, and booths might even be able to be shared between the events. The goal would be to make Downtown San Jose the epicenter of October Halloween experiences.

Below you will find brainstorming ideas we have collected for this concept so far over the years. Please have a look and provide your feedback and suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

The largest draw to Downtown San Jose for many years now has been Christmas in the Park. It has continued to grow year after year and brings in visitors from all over the Bay Area. It's economic impact is substantial and helps keep many Downtown businesses and restaurants alive.

What would you think about a similar event for Halloween? Picture Downtown lit up in orange and purple with elaborate Halloween displays assembled by local artists. Perhaps infrastructure could even be shared with Christmas in the Park (e.g. retail booths). A strong event in October would help maintain traffic between the summer months and Christmas in the Park. 
Here are the ideas we have so far:
  • Animated Halloween Displays
    • Created by local artists
    • Analogous to the Christmas displays that attract many families during Christmas in the Park (almost half a million visitors)
    • Family friendly so that everyone can enjoy it (PG/PG13, perhaps around the same level as Great America Halloween Haunt)
    • Halloween Lighting
      • Orange, purple, and green LED lighting on trees
      • May be possible to use new programmable LED lighting that can go from Halloween colors to Christmas colors with the push of a button, allowing the lights to stay up for Christmas in the Park as well and reducing setup/take-down costs.
    • Halloween Food
      • Booths with candied apples, chocolates, candy, pumpkin seeds, etc.
      • Food trucks
      • Trick-or-treating station - a free piece of candy to anyone wearing a costume any day in October (could also be used to hand out promotional flyers for Downtown events/businesses/resources)
    • Retail Booths selling Halloween items, for example:
      • Artwork (paintings, glass pumpkins, etc.)
      • Home decor/crafts like candles
      • Light-up hats/necklaces/bracelets
      • Costumes
      • Zombie/Halloween make-up station 
    • Halloween-themed Carnival Games
      • Pirates of Emerson and Candlelighters (Fremont) do a good job of providing family-friendly games themed around Halloween
      • A handful of children's rides could also be added to the Paseo and reused for Christmas in the Park
    • Interactive Art
      • Subzero/ZERO1-style, but with a Halloween spin.
      • Halloween-themed video game kiosks and/or arcades
    • Pumpkins
      • Instead of the sponsored Christmas trees in Christmas in the Park, how about decorated Pumpkins (can even be Styrofoam so there is no mess/decay)?
      • Pumpkin carving station for families. 
      • Pumpkin carving contest.
    • Costumed Entertainers
      • Walking around the area, not necessarily scaring people but adding to the ambiance and providing photo opportunities for families
    • Haunts / Mazes
      • Would be ideal if these were nearby, perhaps in vacant retails spaces, surface parking lots, the San Jose Convention Center tent, or at SJSU.
      • Could partners with one of the established San Jose haunt providers such as Deadtime Dreams or The World's Largest Haunted House.
    • Potential Events
      • Zombie-O-Rama can be used to kick off Halloween in the Park (late Sep. / early Oct. time-frame)
      • Zombie Crawl
      • Dia De Los Muertos Events
      • Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos Bike Party
      • Horror Movie Trivia Contest
      • Weekly horror movie screening (perhaps in the Circle of Palms area?)
      • Costume Ball

      Monday, October 30, 2017

      San Jose is the 2nd Best City for Trick-or-Treating!

      As a huge fan of Halloween, I'm thrilled to see San Jose maintain its Zillow rank as the 2nd best city to Trick-or-Treat in. Each year, Zillow creates the list using population density, walk score, home values, local crime data, and age distributions. This should theoretically provide the cities where trick-or-treaters can get the most candy, in the least amount of time, with the fewest safety risks.

      This year San Francisco has overtaken Philadelphia for the top spot, which now ranks #3 right behind San Jose.

      Within San Jose, the top specific neighborhoods for trick-or-treating were West San Jose, Willow Glen, Cambrian Park, Rose Garden, Almaden Valley.

      Source: Zillow

      Sunday, October 29, 2017

      Scott Knies on big changes coming to Downtown

      The Merc has a great interview with Scott Knies, the Executive Director of the San Jose Downtown Association. He discusses big changes, including the potential Google mega-campus which he is already dubbing the GoJo district (Google Jose). Residential, restaurants, and height restrictions also come up in the conversation. Check it out at the link below.

      Source: The Merc

      Saturday, October 28, 2017

      Saturday Stats: SJC is the 4th fastest growing airport in terms of international travel

      We went from a couple to nine international routes in what seems like no time at all. Based on international passengers, San Jose had the 4th fastest growing airport in the country between 2012 and 2016.

      I would actually argue that we led the country in international growth. Reno, Austin, and Columbus were the top three and all of them had almost 0 international travel in 2012. When you take a number close to 0 and add anything to it, you are going to get a very large percentage. San Jose went from 84,000 international passengers in 2012 to 330,400 in 2016. That growth of quarter million passengers is not only far more than any other airport on the top 10, but it is greater than the rest of the top 5 combined.

      SJC also had more passengers in 2012 than any other airport on the list--the larger you are the more difficult it is to grow. This makes the growth SJC has shown even more impressive.

      Source: SVBJ (requires subscription)

      International Passengers

      Thursday, October 26, 2017

      New Homewood Suites by Hilton in North San Jose

      Homewood Suites at 4315 N. First St. officially opened on October 13th. This is an extended-stay hotel ideal for business travelers and has 145 units that are more like mini-apartments. Every room has a full kitchen, separate living and sleeping spaces, and are at least 434 SQFT. They also have two-bedroom suites available. One of their unique features is a grocery shopping service that lets guests provide their shopping lists and employees will buy the groceries for them.

      The new Hotel is located just north of Highway 237 and is just a few minutes away from Alviso, the @First shopping center anchored by Target, and Levi's Stadium.

      Source: SVBJ (subscription required)

      Wednesday, October 25, 2017

      Kika Tech Moves HQ's to San Pedro Square

      As artificial intelligence (AI) integrates into our daily lives, one company is using it to transform the way we communicate.

      Kika Tech, a leader in mobile communications, officially announced the company’s expansion to meet worldwide consumer demand for its AI platform that enhances how people engage and interact.

      In this capacity, the company establishes new headquarters in Downtown San Jose's historic San Pedro Square, bolsters leadership team by appointing Tami Zhu as General Manager.

      Kika Tech’s U.S. expansion builds upon what has been a momentous year for the company. Kika Keyboard, the company’s flagship product, is the #1 rated keyboard app on the Google Play Store in the U.S., providing a seamless mobile experience to more than 60M users each month. Kika has secured $63M in funding and struck key strategic partnerships with global sports franchises (Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona), mobile manufacturers (Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE), movie studios (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros.), and leading GIF provider, GIPHY.

      -Noe Sacoco

      Kika Tech Expands Global Presence to Meet Worldwide Consumer Demand
      Company Establishes New Silicon Valley Headquarters, Bolsters Leadership Team Appointing Tami Zhu as General Manager

      SAN JOSE, Calif.  – Kika Tech, a leader in mobile communications, continues to expand to meet worldwide consumer demand for its artificial intelligence (AI) platform that enhances how people engage and interact. The company today, announced new headquarters in San Jose’s historic San Pedro Square to house its growing workforce and to solidify its presence in Silicon Valley’s innovative culture. Kika Tech has also appointed seasoned business executive Tami Zhu as general manager, whose extensive AI background will lead the company into its next phase of growth. Ms. Zhu’s experience will be leveraged to further Kika’s AI initiatives along with strategic planning, revenue generation, marketing, business development, and results measurements.

      My chief interest has always been in artificial intelligence and consumer technology,” said Tami Zhu, general manager, Kika Tech. “Kika Tech’s advancements in AI is transforming the way we communicate. It’s an exciting time to join the company, as Kika Tech expands its global presence. I look forward to driving Kika Tech’s expansion to reach new milestones in the U.S. and beyond.”

      An MIT graduate and technologist, Ms. Zhu has worked on some of the most cutting-edge innovations of the times, from launching Internet joint ventures across the U.S. and various international countries, to running digital media organizations in China. In her role as general manager, Ms. Zhu will oversee day-to-day U.S. operations including the continued expansion of the U.S. Kika Tech workforce, as the company plans to hire 50 new employees in marketing, sales, engineering and other positions. Previously, Ms. Zhu served as the GM of an AI and robotics startup in San Francisco, where under her leadership, the company raised over $150M in VC funding, won multiple CES Innovation Awards for two consecutive years and became recognized as a dominant AI player in China.

      Earlier in Ms. Zhu’s career, she was vice president at IPG Mediabrands, where she led the innovations of digital media. She also held various executive positions including vice president at IAC/InterActiveCorp and head of AOL Ventures, and was the top female Asian executive in the company. Before that, Ms. Zhu launched Excite@Home’s international joint ventures in the Netherlands, Australia and Japan.

      Kika Tech’s U.S. expansion builds upon what has been a momentous year for the company. Kika Keyboard, the company’s flagship product, is the #1 rated utility app in the Google Play Store, providing a seamless mobile experience to more than 60M users each month. Kika Tech has secured $63M in funding and struck key strategic partnerships with global sports franchises (Real Madrid C.F., FC Barcelona), mobile manufacturers (Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE), movie studios (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros.), and leading GIF provider, GIPHY.

      Looking forward, Kika Tech aims to revolutionize communications by leveraging the company’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence engine. Incorporating image and voice recognition, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and deep learning, Kika Tech’s vision is for individuals to connect five times faster with other users, resulting in more efficient and meaningful conversation.

      About Kika Tech

      Say it with Kika! Make everyday interactions more engaging and fun with Kika Tech. Integrating into smart devices, Kika Tech enhances self-expression that goes beyond mobile platforms. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), Kika Tech enriches the emotional connection between individuals in the technology-driven world. To download the Kika app, please visit: bit.ly/kikakeyboard. Keep up-to-date with Kika Tech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

      Tuesday, October 24, 2017

      San Jose makes a bid for Amazon HQ2

      Amazon is looking for a second home in the United States that would be similar in size to their Seattle Headquarters and result in a $5 billion investment. San Jose has officially put their hat in the ring with a compelling proposal which you can find here.

      Nathan Donato-Weinstein also has a blog post that summarizes the proposal. We do have the best technical talent in the world and San Jose can not only accommodate the 8 million SQFT of office space they are looking for, but we nail all of their other requirements which include great educational solutions and access to international airports (we've got 3 of them within a 45min drive).

      The only thing we don't have is the will to hand out huge subsidies like other cities are doing. We really can't afford it and it is not a sign of true partnership when the community has to suffer at the expense of a corporate deal. The jobs would be great for the economy, but without the tax dollars to provide supporting infrastructure around that much space, we would see our biggest issues like housing and traffic become even greater pain points. So, if Amazon wants the best location for HQ2 (San Jose of course)--they are going to have to open up the checkbook a little more.

      To learn more about our proposal to Amazon, head over here.

      Monday, October 23, 2017

      Aeromexico adding direct flights from SJC to Mexico City

      SJC is now one of the fastest growing airports in the country when it comes to international travel (see second image below). Aeromexico already has a nonstop to Guadalajara and starting next June it will have a new nonstop to Mexico City. The flight will leave Mexico City at 9:35am and arrive in San Jose at 11am our time (three and a half hour flight, two hour time difference) and the return flight from San Jose to Mexico City is scheduled for 1:40pm. The last time San Jose had this route was a decade ago.

      Mexico City will be San Jose's 9th international route (Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, London, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Guadalajara, and Cabo San Lucas are the others). This is an all-time high for international destinations from San Jose, and I have a feeling the number is going to become a lot higher in the near future.

      Source: SVBJ

      Sunday, October 22, 2017

      Total Wine & More Opens in San Jose

      Total Wine & More recently opened on October 12th at the Almaden Ranch Shopping Center. Coinciding with the new opening, Total Wine & More – America’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, beer and spirits – will donate 10% of all wine sales generated from the grand opening proceeds to San Jose Museum of Art.

      Following the newly opened San Jose location, Total Wine & More will open a location in Pleasanton on October 26th.

      Edward Cooper, the Vice President for Public Affairs and Community Relations at Total Wine & More’s, told The San Jose Blog, “Our business plan is centered around supporting the local communities we serve. As we bring our trademark pillars of industry-leading service, selection and price to consumers in San Jose and Pleasanton, we are investing in these communities to demonstrate our deep commitment to these areas.”

      In addition to charitable donations, Cooper explains that the two new Total Wine & More stores in San Jose and Pleasanton will generate additional retail sales tax for their respective cities, bring more than 100 new job opportunities to the region, and offer a vast selection of more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers to customers.

      Check out Total Wine & More at 5140 Cherry Avenue, San Jose, CA 95118.

      -Noe Sacoco Jr

      Friday, October 20, 2017

      POW! WOW! Punches Way Through San Jose!

      The world-renowned POW! WOW! comes to San Jose from October 22- 29, 2017!

      POW! WOW! has expanded to 13+ cities and produced over 500 murals in countries and cities such as Taiwan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Germany and now San Jose!

      POW! WOW! San Jose is powered by Empire Seven Studios and Universal Grammar and is focused on showcasing a gathering of contemporary artists that engages with the broader community in the process and creation of art.

      San Jose’s inaugural event celebrates the efforts of local and out-of-town artists to feature 16 murals take shape. The week-long event brings art to a public forum, creating galleries on the streets for all to see and for later generations to enjoy.

      I’m super stoked that POW! WOW! will be spread across some of my most beloved neighborhoods like J’Town (AKA Japantown), SoFA District, East San Jose and more! Empire Seven Studios, MACLA and San Jose Museum of Art will host receptions, workshops and panel discussions with artists. Make sure to check out the daily music events or mural bike ride.

      I must confess, I just found out about POW! WOW! through my friends at MTCA (thanks guys). While POW! WOW! just came on my radar, it was already weaved into the fabric of who I am. You see, POW! WOW! started in my birthplace (Hawaii) and the annual event is held at one of my most favorite areas in O’ahu: the Kaka’ako District. And now, Kaka’ako’s aloha has now landed in San Jose! Mahalo to POW! WOW! founder Jasper Wong for bringing the event to San Jose J

      While San Jose’s identity is defined by innovators developing life-changing technologies, what I find most endearing about San Jose is witnessing the city evolve and adapt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate of San Jose’s annual events, but we need more events and happenings like POW! WOW! because arts, entertainment and culture are great building blocks for a thriving and growing city. What excites me most about POW! WOW! San Jose’s iteration is that if reinforces San Jose’s commitment to shine light on the arts.

      Thank you again to Jasper Wong and POW! WOW! San Jose’s event organizers for bringing this event to San Jose!

      San Jose, let’s show them the way…

      More deets on the event’s schedule can be found here: 

      -Noe Sacoco Jr