Silicon Valley, Other Tech Hubs Have Bounced Back from Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, pundits and analysts questioned whether technologists would migrate away from the country’s most expensive tech hubs. On paper, the idea certainly made sense: If remote work was the future, why would technologists bother living in places with ultra-high rents, long commutes, and intense competition for jobs?

Over the course of the past two years, some data seemed to back that theory. For example, a number of prominent tech companies (including Oracle and Tesla) transplanted their headquarters from Silicon Valley to Texas, in search of lower taxes and (for their employees) a lower cost of living. Meanwhile, small but significant percentages of technologists told Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists on a range of issues, that they’d relocated from the Bay Area. It was a similar situation in New York City, where many workers simply left for cheaper environsas well as Seattle

But Silicon Valley and the other, more established tech hubs certainly aren’t dead—far from it, in fact. According to CompTIA’s latest job report, San Francisco enjoyed a significant increase in job postings between October and November, suggesting an increase in local demand for technologists:

Meanwhile, New York City led in overall tech job postings in November, outpacing up-and-coming tech hubs such as Washington, D.C., Dallas, Atlanta, and Phoenix. On the state level, California saw its tech job postings increase by roughly 570 last month, hitting 42,969—placing it ahead of Texas, which saw its tech job postings decrease by 6,300 (for a total of 29,553). 

The biggest tech companies also continue to invest heavily in the older tech hubs. For example, Google recently announced its intention to spend an additional $2.1 billion on Manhattan office space. “As Google moves toward a more flexible hybrid approach to work, coming together in person to collaborate and build community will remain an important part of our future. It is why we continue investing in our offices around the world,” the company wrote in a corporate blog posting. “Our decision to exercise our option to purchase [St. John’s Terminal, as part of its growing ‘Hudson Square campus’] further builds upon our existing plans to invest more than $250 million this year in our New York campus presence.”

According to an analysis by The New York Times, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple collectively hired more than 2,600 employees in New York City throughout 2020, despite the reported exodus of technologists and companies. Amazon is moving into a Midtown building once occupied by Lord & Taylor, while Facebook is taking over the Farley Building, which is a New York City Landmark.

Between real estate purchases and hiring, it’s clear that the traditional tech hubs of Silicon Valley, New York City, and Seattle aren’t going anywhere. That’s great news for the technologists who want a piece of these tech hubs’ energy and opportunity—but that also doesn’t stop those workers from potentially pursuing their careers in smaller cities. 

One Response to “Silicon Valley, Other Tech Hubs Have Bounced Back from Pandemic”

  1. Jake_Leone

    If you are an executive, you never have to lower yourself down and take a look (much less listen to) what the pond scum is telling you. You make big decisions, you spend billions, even if the signs (and by signs, I mean all signs) are pointing the other way.

    At my company, we had a lot of open floor space. But then some exec said, let’s cram everyone into one building, and we can rent out the other (they were never able to rent it). They hired a consultant to ask employees if they wanted a more jammed in/cramped office. Every engineer liked the previous open plan. I made it a point to emphasize that disease (this was 5.5 years ago) would increase (I have a family member with a compromised immune system, I can’t get sick, I have worn a mask for 6 years now, hey no colds or flu in that time either, not complaining about masks here). Well here it is, the Pandemic, and what do you know? Everyone has to wear a mask. But the execs can’t go backward, because the same execs that approved the scrunchy office plan, are still there.

    What’s it gonna take to stop the stubbornness? Just change. Uh Oh!, can’t do that, that would shine a light on it, and we (the execs) would look bad.

    Don’t fix what’s broke until we are forced to see it, that’s what most execs think and say quietly. By then it is too late, so live (or die) with it.

    And there is a long history of this. Most of the cloud software was created by distributed software development groups and individuals (hey Linux). They didn’t need a central office space. Who needs the office space? It isn’t software technologists.

    It is management that needs the office space, to justify the only business model (1990’s) that they can understand, and therefore can grow by simple scalar multiplication. Management always moves toward the simple algebra plans (I wonder why?), rather than the exponential potential of a distributed development.

    But more to the point, Apache, Alternative Java, a Great deal of the web browser code, Linux, … And thousands of other projects. All used by Big Tech and other big companies. All developed by distributed teams and individuals.

    Why are technologists dragged into the dungeon with sales and marketing people, and the managers, and the executives. Why? Why?

    Because no one even looks at or dare listens to what technologists are really saying.

    We like working remotely. We don’t want to spend money commuting and in doing so create more Green House gas. We can’t afford a house on the San Francisco Peninsula, or Manhattan (like the execs can). But Executives don’t care.

    If Executives pull back office space plans, the whole house of cards falls in on them. And everyone will see the mold growing, on the egg, on their faces.

    These companies talk a big talk about being environmentally friendly. But the reality is, if that spiel runs counter to the goals and projects (that their bonuses are based upon). They will continue doing the wrong thing. Because all their talk about caring for environment, worker’s health, and so on, isn’t more important than their bonus and the fake justifications for that bonus.