Leaving The Bay Area

Signals. How do you find them through all the noise? When you do find them, what do they tell us? Many are looking for signals that illuminate the post-pandemic world of work. Will we return to an office in large numbers? Will the future evolve towards a hybrid, more flexible model of work? What happens to real estate? In a recent article, Dan Gentile identifies companies that are Leaving the Bay Area. According to the article, there are 16.3 million square feet of office space in San Francisco currently vacant. The organization sf.citi surveyed companies in January 2021 and found that 63% of those asked plan to downsize or have already downsized their offices. The results of the survey also showed that only 14.6% of companies polled plan to have their employees return entirely to in-person work (signals).

Additional data compiled by San Francisco venture capital firm Initialized Capital showed that new tech companies may not see Silicon Valley as the fruitful start-up landscape that it used to be. Only 90 companies were surveyed, so the findings should be taken with a grain of salt, but the amount of companies who said the Bay Area would be their first choice to headquarter a company dropped from 41.6% in 2020 to 28.4% in 2021. However, some prominent tech CEOs are still trying to rally companies to keep San Francisco in the front of their mind, like Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson, who posted his commitment to the Bay Area on Twitter with the hashtag #committothebay.

Dan Gentile

The article provides a list of the companies that have decided to leave the Bay Area, along with a description of their rationale. The list is impressive:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Digital Reality

I posed a question in a recent post about big cities and whether they were In Trouble. These signals do not answer that question, but they do give us a view into possible paths. The future of work is a complicated topic that intersects with multiple domains. The visual identifies a few of those domains along with the possible implications of a shifting world of work. If remote work is a lasting mode of working, then it does not matter where you live. The impact to cities could be severe, but why should we believe that we humans – who are social beings – will be alright with working remotely? Additionally, in a service economy, many jobs are not conducive to remote work. More questions than answers – but we can say that about every aspect of our emerging future.

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