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Amazon HQ2 silliness: Tech investor says ‘no nice houses’ in Pittsburgh |

Amazon HQ2 silliness: Tech investor says ‘no nice houses’ in Pittsburgh

Patrick Semansky/AP
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Mayor Bill Peduto speaks during a press conference following Pittsburgh's application to Amazon as a destination for their HQ2, at the City County Building.

The longer Amazon drags out its decision on where to build its second headquarters, the sillier it gets.

It started with silly gifts, like a giant cactus . Then came silly lists, like one that ranks cities based on late-night grub options.

Pittsburgh ranked 10th out of the 20 finalists, in case you wondered.

And now this. A silly head-to-head matchup on CNBC pitting cities against one another . The cable news channel’s “Dash for Amazon” series includes so-called experts rating cities on tax incentives, city fundamentals and the “x-factor.”

This week, Jason Calacanis, CEO of and a tech entrepreneur and investor in the Bay Area, and Wendy Davis, a former Texas state senator who once staged an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that would have forced many abortion clinics to close, evaluated Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Both cities are among the 20 finalist for Amazon’s HQ2.

“I went with Philly over Pittsburgh because of housing,” Calacanis said. “No dig to Pittsburgh, but there are no nice houses. Zero.”

Wait. What? No nice houses in Pittsburgh? The assertion even appeared to catch the show’s host off guard. Watch it here .

Calacanis explains that he spent time on Redfin and Zillow looking at homes in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. He talks about a 7,500-square-foot, five-bedroom, nine-bath townhouse he found in Philadelphia listed for $5.8 million and notes how that will be attractive to Amazon.

And he’s right. There are no homes on Zillow or Redfin in Pittsburgh listed for $5 to $6 million, but several similar homes go for millions less.

Davis also picked Philadelphia but strayed away from insulting an entire city’s housing stock.

“You guys are going to get some hate mail from Pittsburgh,” the CNBC host said at the end of the segment.

Does anyone have a stamp?

CNBC pitted Chicago against Miami last week . The expert panelists included John Rossman, a former director at Amazon; Jason Larry, the mayor of Stonecrest, Ga., who offered to change the city’s name to Amazon to woo the company, and Calacanis. Miami won the round 2-1 with Larry pretending to fall asleep at the mention of Chicago.

We say let the people decide. CNBC also put the Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia question to a vote, asking people to choose between a video boasting about Pittsburgh made by Steel City rocker Joe Gruskecky and a nice try from Philadelphia from the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney.

Mayor Kenney, how many Super Bowl wins does Philadelphia have? That’s what we thought.

Pittsburgh’s video is up with 66 percent of the vote but you can pad that lead here .

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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