Who Wins the Battle of NYC: Seinfeld or Altucher?

Iconic New Yorkers Jerry Seinfeld and James Altucher slug it out vis-à-vis the future of NYC. Who wins?

The Battle of the Future of NYC: Seinfeld vs Altucher

In case you missed it, there’s been a bit of a brawl, a melee, a dustup, a brouhaha – dare I say a donnybrook? – going on over the course of the past week or so.

I’m referring to the ongoing war of words between iconic New Yorker,  hall of fame comedian and billionaire Jerry Seinfeld and another iconic New Yorker, uber successful entrepreneur, angel investor, author and multi-millionaire James Altucher.

The two have gone to war over the future of New York City.

More specifically, in a blog post called “NYC is Dead Forever, Here’s Why,” Altucher says New York City is dead, forever, and not coming back.

In an opinion piece that appeared in the New York Times a few days later entitled “Jerry Seinfeld: So You Think New York is Dead (It’s not.),” Seinfeld fired back and took a series of shots at Altucher, taking the position that NYC is anything but dead.

Altucher then responded with a piece in the New York Post called “Sorry, Seinfeld: Your love of NYC won’t change the facts about its crisis.”  

Who’s the King?

So, who’s right?

Only time will tell, of course, if NYC truly is a dead city walking, or if it’s just a matter of time before the city that never sleeps comes roaring back to life.

But, in the interim, who won this war of words?

Who is most likely to end up the king of predicting the future of New York City?

Let’s analyze the action, round by round, and blow by blow.

For purposes of this analysis, I’m considering every major point of contention between Seinfeld and Altucher a “round,” and I will score it using the traditional “10 point must” system of scoring used in boxing in which the winner of the round gets 10 points, and the loser gets 9 or less, depending on the degree to which the winner dominated the round.

This is an eight-round contest, with rounds one through seven representing things Altucher asserted in his original blog post, and with round eight representing what Seinfeld alleged over and above those topics in his response in the New York Times.

In the immortal words of Michael Buffer, let’s get ready to rumble!

May the best New Yorker win!

Round 1: People have left NYC and they are not coming back


Altucher provides a series of anecdotes about what he has seen personally in terms of people leaving the city in large numbers. As one example, he wrote this:

A Facebook group formed a few weeks ago that was for people who were planning a move and wanted others to talk to and ask advice from. Within two or three days it had about 10,000 members. 

Every day I see more and more posts, “I’ve been in NYC forever but I guess this time I have to say goodbye.” Every single day I see those posts. I’ve been screenshotting them for my scrapbook. 

He also makes this point:

NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were becoming paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this. 


Seinfeld counters Altucher’s comments with the following:

He says he knows people who have left New York for Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana. I have been to all of these places many, many, many times over many decades. And with all due respect and affection, Are .. You .. Kidding .. Me?!

He says Everyone’s gone for good. How the hell do you know that? You moved to Miami. Yes, I also have a place out on Long Island. But I will never abandon New York City. Ever.

Scoring Round 1:

We wrote another recent blog post – which you can find here – in which we analyzed Altucher’s original blog post.

As you will note if you read our blog, there is a significant body of evidence that suggests people are leaving NYC in significant numbers.

And while Seinfeld does raise a valid question when he asks, “How the hell do you know that (people are gone for good)?,” he offers nothing specific in support of his side of this point of contention.

While it’s clear that Altucher’s observations are consistent with the facts at the moment, we’ll give Seinfeld the benefit of the doubt and call this round a draw, because it really is too early to tell if people truly are gone for good.

Score after Round 1:

Altucher 10

Seinfeld 10

Round 2: Businesses have left NYC and they are not coming back


One of the biggest points Altucher makes in his original post is this:

Businesses are remote and they aren’t returning to the office. And it’s a death spiral — the longer offices remain empty, the longer they will remain empty.

He also talks about life “AB: After Bandwidth,” and how that has changed the fundamentals of doing business forever. Here’s what he wrote:

We are officially AB: After Bandwidth. And for the entire history of NYC (the world) until now, we were BB: Before Bandwidth. 

Remote learning, remote meetings, remote offices, remote performance, remote everything. 

That’s what is different. 


Seinfeld counters Altucher with the following:

There’s some other stupid thing in the article about “bandwidth” and how New York is over because everybody will “remote everything.” Guess what: Everyone hates to do this. Everyone. Hates.

You know why? There’s no energy.

Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines. That’s the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Scoring Round 2:

In the blog we wrote about Altucher’s original post, we analyzed all the factors that serve to support Altucher’s assertions that jobs and businesses have left – and are continuing to leave – NYC and are likely not coming back.

Altucher’s opinions are well supported by all available data regarding current and future trends within this context.

Seinfeld’s points are supported by nothing, really. He simply expresses his opinion, and his opinion is not consistent with reality in terms of businesses going virtual, and in terms of employees wanting to work remotely.

In round 2, Altucher does serious damage, and nearly knocks Seinfeld out.

Altucher wins round 2, 10-8.

Score after Round 2:

Altucher 20

Seinfeld 18

Round 3: Culture has been decimated by the pandemic


Altucher makes a variety of comments with respect to how culture has been damaged by the pandemic. Here is one of those:

That said, we have no idea when we will open. Nobody has any idea. And the longer we remain closed, the less chance we will ever reopen profitably. 

Broadway is closed until at least the spring. The Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed. 

Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers. 

There are thousands of performers, producers, artists, and the entire ecosystem of art, theater, production, curation, that surrounds these cultural centers. People who have worked all of their lives for the right to be able to perform even once on Broadway, whose lives and careers have been put on hold. 

I get it. There was a pandemic. 

But the question now is: What happens next? And, given the uncertainty (since there is no known answer), and given the fact that people, cities, economies loathe uncertainty, we simply don’t know the answer and that’s a bad thing for New York City. 


Seinfeld’s only real reference to culture is this:

Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

Scoring Round 3:

Altucher raises some valid points and concerns about the ability of culture to bounce back any time soon.

Seinfeld offers no real counter of substance.

As Exhibit A, I’ll remand you to the prior, “Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while…”

Really, Jerry?

C’mon, man.

Altucher wins round 3, 10-9.

Score after Round 3:

Altucher 30

Seinfeld 27

Round 4: Restaurants been devastated by the pandemic


Altucher talks about how his favorite restaurants have been closed permanently in response to COVID-19. He also offers some stats about the number of eateries that are likely to be close for good in NYC, and also nationally.


Seinfeld offers no response on this specific point.

Scoring Round 4:

Altucher raises some valid points and concerns about the ability of food services to bounce back any time soon.

Seinfeld offers no counterpoint.

Altucher wins round 4, 10-8.

Score after Round 4:

Altucher 40

Seinfeld 35

Round 5: Commercial real estate has been trashed by the pandemic


Altucher makes several strong points with regard to commercial real estate. Here is one:

And then with everyone waiting… prices go down further. So people see prices go down and they say, “Good thing I waited. But what happens if I wait even more?!” And they wait and then prices go down more. 

This is called a deflationary spiral. People wait. Prices go down. Nobody really wins. Because the landlords or owners go broke. Less money gets spent on the city. Nobody moves in so there is no motion in the markets. And people already owning in the area and can afford to hang on have to wait longer for a return of restaurants, services, etc. that they were used to. 


Seinfeld offers no response on this specific point.

Scoring Round 5:

Altucher makes some valid points concerning the long-term viability of commercial real estate

Seinfeld offers nothing.

Altucher wins round 5, 10-8.

Score after Round 5:

Altucher 50

Seinfeld 43

Round 6: College students not returning will make matters worse


Altucher talks about the impact of some percentage of the college students that normally populate New York City not coming back this fall. Here is an excerpt on that point:

Not so fast. Let’s say just 100,000 of those 600,000 don’t return to school and decide not to rent an apartment in New York City. That’s a lot of apartments that will go empty.

That’s a lot of landlords who will not be able to pay their own bills. Many bought those student apartments as a way to make a living. So now it ripples back to the landlords, to the support staff, to the banks, to the professors, etc.


Seinfeld offers no response on this specific point.

Scoring Round 6:

Altucher makes a solid argument concerning how non-returning college kids will likely impact economics in NYC.

Seinfeld offers no response whatsoever.

Altucher wins round 6, 10-8.

Score after Round 6:

Altucher 60

Seinfeld 51

Round 7: Infrastructure will be adversely impacted


Altucher makes good points about how all of these other factors are going to affect tax revenues of NYC, and how the drop in tax revenues will then impact the City’s ability to continue to fund its enormous infrastructure.


Seinfeld offers no response on this specific point.

Scoring Round 7:

Altucher’s thinking is sound and supported by facts in terms of infrastructure.

Seinfeld offers no response whatsoever.

Altucher wins round 7, 10-8.

Score after Round 7:

Altucher 70

Seinfeld 59

At this point, Seinfeld is way behind on the judge’s scorecard.

He has to know he is in trouble.

It’s highly likely that he’ll come out with guns blazing in Round 8.

He has no shot at winning unless he can connect with a wild haymaker and knock Altucher out.

Round 8: Personal shots


More than anything else, Seinfeld’s New York Times piece was a series of personal shots at Altucher:

But one thing I know for sure: The last thing we need in the thick of so many challenges is some putz on LinkedIn wailing and whimpering, “Everyone’s gone! I want 2019 back!”

Oh, shut up. Imagine being in a real war with this guy by your side.

Listening to him go, “I used to play chess all day. I could meet people. I could start any type of business.” Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together.

And I have been onstage at your comedy club Stand Up N.Y. quite a few times. It could use a little sprucing up, if you don’t mind my saying. I wouldn’t worry about it. You can do it from Miami.

You will not bounce back. In your enervated, pastel-filled new life in Florida. I hope you have a long, healthy run down there. I can’t think of a more fitting retribution for your fine article.

We’re going to keep going with New York City if that’s all right with you. And it will sure as hell be back.

Because of all the real, tough New Yorkers who, unlike you, loved it and understood it, stayed and rebuilt it.


In his New York Post response, Altucher wrote the following:

I’ve gotten more death threats in the past week than probably the average politician does — all because I wrote a column for The Post with the online headline “NYC Is Dead Forever: Here’s Why.” I presented facts. Plus, I told the story of my own lifelong love affair with the Big Apple and lamented its impending demise.

Now Jerry Seinfeld — sitting in the comfort and safety of his Hamptons mansion, with probably five dozen rare Italian sports cars in the garage — has written a response in the New York Times calling me a “putz” and insisting that “NYC has resilience.”

The city we love needs help. I don’t care that Seinfeld insults me in another paper. Hey, for all the grimness of the moment, at least I inspired a once-great ­comedian to finally write some new jokes. By the way, my local business, StandupNY, is doing 50 free shows in Central Park this week. You’re welcome to perform, Jerry, but I don’t think you’re in town.

Scoring Round 8:

The thinness and weakness of Seinfeld’s entire gambit is laid bare in this, the final round.

Rather than analyzing Altucher’s points and refuting them intellectually – you know, like a normal adult might – Seinfeld strings together a series of poorly conceived and even more poorly articulated stream-of-consciousness-ish thoughts that do nothing but make Seinfeld look childish and petty.

My take: Seinfeld is very upset about what has happened to his fair city – which I completely understand – and he is lashing out at the first person who happened to present themselves as an available and potentially viable punching bag.

That, of course, as fate would have it, was Altucher.

That part, I do not understand.

At all.

Lacking actual facts, statistics, data or substantive evidence of any kind, Seinfeld resorts to ad hominem personal attacks that make him look weak.

Really weak.

And even beyond that, there’s a real problem with Seinfeld’s tone and tenor.

He comes at Altachur as if Altucher had expressed some level of glee or happiness in his unfortunate and sad predictions about the future of NYC.

It was and is crystal clear where Altucher’s heart was and is, which is firmly and unequivocally on the side of his beloved home city.

For Seinfeld to come at Altucher the way he did just didn’t sit well with me spiritually.

You don’t shoot the messenger.

You particularly don’t do that when that messenger is clearly taking no pleasure in the delivering of the message.

The only analogy I can come up with for what this feels like to me was when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert wrote an emotional, knee-jerk response – in comic sans, no less – in which he trashed LeBron publicly.

Remember that cultural Fabergé egg?

If not, here it is:

dan gilbert lebron james

It appears others may agree that Seinfeld was out of line in his comments about Altucher…

Altucher Wins By KO

Altucher pins him against the wall of the octagon and Seinfeld – worn down by the depth and breadth of of Altucher’s arguments, and weakened by the venom and toxicity that appear to occupy his soul – after taking after a torrid series of shots to the head and body, is knocked out.

Getting Real for a Second

In all seriousness, it is truly unfortunate that a man of Jerry Seinfeld’s stature – a billionaire, a great, legendary talent and without question one of the most famous entertainers in American if not world history – reacted the way he did to Altucher’s original blog post.

Altucher’s love for NYC is so clear from what he wrote.

Altucher was doing nothing more than reporting the facts as he saw them.

Also, in reality, Seinfeld and Altucher have the exact same interests in mind: the survival of their great city.

No way should the two of these guys have beef, about anything.

They should be in some dark bar, having another drink and planning the best steps to take to resurrect Gotham, stat.

For Seinfeld to have attacked Altucher the way he did was not cool.

All that said, in this war of words – which is of course trivial in the grand scheme, within the insane context of CrazyWorld 2020 – James Altucher is your clear winner.

By a knockout…

James Altucher: King of New York City!

PS – In this interview, Altucher talks about various matters relating to the response to his original blog post, as well as his feud with Seinfeld.