Five Questions For…Seth Socolow

Seth Socolow is SVP Strategic Partnerships for Airpush and founder of the AppShow (, where since 2009 over 175 iOS and Android developers have showcased their apps. He grew up in Princeton, NJ and has called San Francisco home since 1997. Seth has a BA from Vassar College in International Studies and an MBA from Thunderbird: School of Global Management. In his spare time, Seth enjoys playing tennis, the acoustic guitar, speaking and learning foreign languages, and raising his daughter.

Seth with Yannick Noah

1. When did you begin playing tennis?  

I started playing at age 12 in Princeton, NJ and played JV tennis in high school freshman and sophomore year before making the varsity as a junior and senior.  I barely made my NCAA Division III team at Vassar College and didn't really get to play many live matches until senior year.  I moved to San Francisco in 1997 and have enjoyed playing NTRP leagues and tournaments ever since.

2. Where are your favorite places to play in the Bay Area?

I like to say I'll play tennis anywhere there is a net.  I play the most at JP Murphy Park (9th and Pacheco) and Bay Club SF Tennis, formerly San Francisco Tennis Club.   I love the courts in Buena Vista Park because of the beautiful views and also they have the benefit of being enclosed individually so you never have to deal with a stray ball from another court.  I practice serves sometimes at Golden Gate Heights Park, but the courts are in such bad condition that it's not really safe to run on them.  They were last resurfaced in the 1990s!  I've been working with the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association as well as the Department of Recreation and Parks to try to get these courts resurfaced.  I had a couple of city-approved contractors come out and estimate the cost of court resurfacing and it came in at $75,000.  I'm hoping to raise some of the money to resurface these courts in the next couple of years and hope the City can pay for the rest.

3. What is your involvement with "San Franciscans for Sports & Recreation"? How did that campaign come about?  

I'm one of four people leading the steering committee for the 800 members of San Franciscans for Sports & Recreation.  We've lost so many recreational facilities over the past few years that we felt that we needed to have a voice for residents who care about sports and recreation and can make sure the lawmakers in this city hear from us.

On May 12th we submitted a ballot initiative for San Franciscans to state that they wanted any public or private recreational facility 10,000 square feet or larger to be replaced in like kind prior to its demolition.  There actually is already very similar language to this in Western SOMA, where the San Francisco Tennis club [where there is a proposal to tear it down and replace it with an office building] is located, but with the new Central SOMA plan the lines are essentially being re-drawn and the San Francisco Tennis Club has been "moved" into Central SOMA and the Western SOMA requirement to replace recreation in like kind is being ignored. There's also been talk of demolishing the tennis courts at SF State.

After tennis, swimming is probably my favorite sport and it took a successful ballot measure to keep real estate developers from demolishing two of the few outdoor pools I know of in San Francisco at Golden Gateway on the Embarcadero.

We need 16,000 signatures from registered San Francisco voters to get this initiative on the ballot. For more information contact Seth at or check out these resources:

4. What inspired your passion for advocating for public and private recreational facilities in SF?

When I was growing up my dad used to say to me "Work Hard. Play Hard."  I continue to live a large part of my life according to that motto.  I chose as an adult to live in San Francisco due to the overall quality of life here, due in part to the jobs in innovative new technology companies in this city as well as the numerous recreational opportunities in this area.  Over the 16 years that I've lived in San Francisco the City has changed dramatically.  There are more people here than ever before, more cars on the roads and the city is only 7 miles long by 7 miles wide.  It seems that real estate developers are eyeing every square inch of land and want to build everywhere.   If that's allowed what kind of city will we be left with?  We're losing the soul and the character of the city that makes it not only such a great place to work, but also a great place to play as well.

5. Who inspires you, on or off the court?  

My hero when I was growing up was Yannick Noah.  He was such a fantastic athlete and has such an amazing story.   The son of a French mother and a Cameroonian father who played professional soccer in Sedan, France before getting injured and moving the whole family back to Cameroon.    A young Yannick was 11 years old when Arthur Ashe took a tennis "mission" to Africa and ends up hitting with Yannick at the local club in Etoudi, Cameroon.  Ashe called the head of the French Tennis Federation, Philippe Chatrier, and told him he had to get Noah into formal tennis training in France.  Noah leaves his family in Africa for France at age 12 and of course goes on to win the French Open 12 years later and to eventually briefly reach the #3 world ranking.  And he's had a whole second career after tennis as a very successful singer in France and to frequently been named France's favorite celebrity.  He's also extremely active in two charities for children in France, Fête le Mur, and Enfants de la Terre. 

I miss the brand of athletic, attacking tennis Noah (as well as Becker and Edberg) used to play.  With today's strings players can hit such dipping passing shots that the volleyer has lost a lot of the advantages they had in the 1980s.