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San Francisco Poaching Tech Talent From Silicon Valley 282

Posted by timothy
from the leap-seems-small-from-space dept.
jfruh writes "Silicon Valley, including San Jose and the chain of suburbs running north from it along the San Francisco Peninsula, has long been the epicenter of the tech business and startup scene. San Francisco itself, just a few miles to the north, has always been in the Valley's orbit — but now, more and more, the center of gravity is shifting to San Francisco, and the move seems to be hitting a tipping point. The reason: the young talent companies want to attract would rather live in a hip city than in suburban sprawl, and don't want to commute 45 minutes to work."
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San Francisco Poaching Tech Talent From Silicon Valley

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:51PM (#40751699)

    It takes about 45 minutes to commute between places actually in San Francisco, if you don't pick the right ones, thanks to SF Muni having barely had any improvement since the Market Street Subway was built in 1980. Could easily spend 45 minutes on the N-Judah...

    • by andymadigan (792996) <amadigan@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:58PM (#40751809)
      At least you're not driving, on public transit you get to read while someone else does the driving. I moved to San Jose six months ago and I explicitly picked a location where I could take the Light Rail to work, most of my coworkers drive and live nowhere near transit along the peninsula. I plan to move to SF (along with all the other "young talent") where it might take a bit longer to get to work, but you can go around the whole city without a car, instead of just certain areas. (I do have a car, I just hate driving).

      Of course, the real reason to move is that even San Jose, with a larger population than S.F., feels like a suburb compared to City.
      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:04PM (#40753927)

        What the hell is wrong with feeling like a suburb? Having grown up in a small rural town I'm baffled by the arrogance and snobbery of city dwellers who'd prefer having homeless people sleeping in their doorway than to go somewhere else. Why is suburb a dirty word? What is in SF that anyone would want to live there and put up with all its problems?

        • by TallDarkMan (1073350) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:23PM (#40754231) Homepage

          The basic answer is culture...be that arts, entertainment, or what-have-you...which the suburbs are more limited in. If you're lucky, there's some stuff to do in your (suburbia) town (Marin to the north is very artsy-fartsy, and Berkeley has a lot being a college town), but others (Hayward in the East Bay, or San Bruno on the Penninsula south of S.F.) don't have much more than the traditional malls. So "going out for a night on the town" usually means hopping in your car (or if it's convenient, hopping on BART) and heading to The City.

          The suburbs aren't "bad"....just less stuff to do there versus the city....and I think that's true for a lot of cities.

          Heck, I know of some people who lived out in the Central Valley (to the east of the Bay Area and it's suburbs) but moved to the Bay Area, even though it's WAY more expensive, simply because "there's more there"...

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          What the hell is wrong with feeling like a suburb? Having grown up in a small rural town I'm baffled by the arrogance and snobbery of city dwellers who'd prefer having homeless people sleeping in their doorway than to go somewhere else. Why is suburb a dirty word? What is in SF that anyone would want to live there and put up with all its problems?

          Depends. I live in the suburbs, but I work downtown. During lunchtime, I go out for walks and see/do stuff.

          I had to work a better part of a year at a business park

        • What the hell is wrong with feeling like a suburb?

          I live in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco. It's a wonderfully quiet little place with low crime and great schools. I loving living there, walking to the library, driving five minutes to a beach, etc. It's not like the stereotypical suburban wasteland of soulless strip mall after strip mall and the quality of life is wonderful.

          That said, I think I'd go insane if I didn't work in the city. There's so much more energy here, and a million things to do, see, and look at every day. It's a little noisier and more crowded than I'd want in a house setting, but I love working here.

          Oh, my daily commute involves walking a block to the transbay bus, reading a book for half an hour, then walking a block from the bus terminal to my office. For a couple of bucks more and a longer walk, I can also ride the ferry in much less time (to the point that I'd have a hard time finishing a drink you can buy at the onboard bar).

    • That's why all the people are moving to South of Market, right next to the companies.

      Also, I'm not sure San Francisco is really a distinct region from Silicon Valley, at least when talking about tech.
    • It takes about 45 minutes to commute between places actually in San Francisco, if you don't pick the right ones, thanks to SF Muni having barely had any improvement since the Market Street Subway was built in 1980. Could easily spend 45 minutes on the N-Judah...

      That would imply that you live away out in the fog in the Sunset. Why would anyone without kids want to live out there?

    • by djl4570 (801529)
      Time squandered waiting for and riding SF Muni was my first thought. My personal observation from the mid eighties when I lived in the city was most trip across town that required Muni ride meant adding at least thirty minutes to your schedule each way.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      SF is dirty and grimy too. Why anyone outside that city would want to voluntarily move there is confusing. Probably kids who are disappointed that there aren't enough all night dance clubs outside the city. SF really is not a high tech center, unless for some strange reason you consider doing HTML or social apps to be "high tech".

      Forget about driving, there are miltiant cyclists who will bang on your car. And the entirety of the city contains only 12 parking spaces so good luck finding on.

      The cool/hip a

      • by _Ludwig (86077)
        A million times this. Don't move to San Francisco.

        our rents are high enough as it is

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:54PM (#40751747)

    Issues of sprawl and crappy commutes notwithstanding, the people developing cool apps for smartphones want to live in SF because they are hipsters. These are not the same kinds of folks that "made" silicon valley. They were far nerdier, more interested in hardware, chip design, etc -- basically infrastructure stuff and they were NOT hip. They weren't quite as drawn to SF.

    SF also has girls.

    I still think the Peninsula and South Bay are far superior if you like outdoor activities: running, hiking, climbing, biking.

    Psh. I like the old farts better than the new kids.

    • Are you saying.......that SF is for Brogrammers? Probably true.
    • by Trepidity (597)

      I still think the Peninsula and South Bay are far superior if you like outdoor activities: running, hiking, climbing, biking.

      If you like outdoor activities, then imo the other side of the hill, on the coast or in the mountains, is really the best place in the area. Less of the suburban-sprawl, big-box kind of feeling, more nature, less crowded. And ocean and redwoods! But alas the tech activity there is not as great as it used to be. The once Unix-greybeard-filled Santa Cruz Operation eventually died (and i

    • I'm about as nerdy as you can get, and 48 years old. I also happen to have a life-long interest in alternative music, and SF is the place to go. It is the cultural magnet for the entire Bay Area. San Jose has an anemic music scene, and everything in between SF and SJ is a wasteland. The only emerging rival is the East Bay, which has attracted a lot of bands due to the lower cost of living. So for me, it would be really great if I was living in SF, this isn't just about young "hipsters" with tattoos and

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:56PM (#40751779)
    My friend who lives there calls it "the city". The hipness is implied by the condescending tone of voice when you say "the city".
    • Re:Hip City? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:04PM (#40751927) Homepage Journal

      Guess what? In ancient Rome, they called Rome, "the city" and in England, they call London "the city", and it's similarly true elsewhere in history and the world. The condescension is imagined on your part.

      • in England, they call London "the city"

        'The city' is usually used in England (if not referring to the nearest city) to mean The City of London, which is about a square mile containing all of the banks and associated surplus population.

        • It's similar in the Bay Area. "The City" refers to a little section on the tip of the penninsula. Calling it "the city" distinguishes it from the greater metropolitan area. And it does have the biggest concentration of big buildings and high priced housing.

          It changes if you go farther away, like California's Central Valley, they will call the entire Bay Area "San Francisco", often including San Jose.
      • by adavies42 (746183)

        Istanbul actually means "in the city" or "to the city" (in medieval Greek). People near New York call New York "the city" (and people in the other boroughs mean "Manhattan" when they say "the city").

      • In NJ NYC was always called 'The City'

      • by Trepidity (597)

        In Greece, oddly enough, they still call Istanbul (i.e. Constantinople) "the city".

    • Re:Hip City? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Macman408 (1308925) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:18PM (#40752161)

      It's not just a hipster thing. Everybody in the bay area calls it "the city". Conversely, only tourists will call it "frisco" or "San Fran".

      • As a resident non-native, I make it a point to call it "San Fran" (or when feeling particularly spiteful "Frisco") just to jab at native sensibilities.

        I usually reserve it for this type of conversation:

        Them: Where are you from?
        Me: Minnesota
        Them: Oh. Where in Minnesota?
        Me: The Twin Cities area. (Or sometimes just "the Cities")
        Them: Oh... Where's that?
        Me: It's not Duluth and it's not the place where the Mayo Clinic is. (Fargo accent:) So... have ya lived in 'Frisco your whole life der den?

        And occasionally peo

    • My friend who lives there calls it "the city". The hipness is implied by the condescending tone of voice when you say "the city".

      Everybody who lives in the bay area calls SF "the city". Get over it.

  • by ramk13 (570633) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:57PM (#40751791)

    San Francisco is undoubtedly cooler than the south bay, but it's also way more expensive. Not everyone can afford rent or the space they want in SF when compared to many of those south bay cities. That goes both for companies and people. Some companies will move or start there, but I think it's reaching to say we're at a tipping point.

    And most importantly, people aren't raising kids in SF:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/13/san-francisco-moms-reflect_n_1508072.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    So that talent that young is going to have to commute the other way when they get married and have kids.

    • by jcadam (964044)
      No, when the young talent gets married and has kids they find a job in another part of the country with a sane COL. I interviewed with a few of these 'hip' companies in SV, and they tend to balk when they hear my current salary (and I currently live in a rather low cost of living area). Not to mention that, at the ripe old of age of 32, I feel like a geezer as soon as I walk in the door at your typical startup. Now when I get a call from a recruiter who thinks I'm perfect for some position in the SF Bay
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ryanrule (1657199)

      Its GOOD that its more expensive. FORCE the companies to pay the lower level people better, and the upper level people worse.

      PLUS, its not a 5 minute drive to a golf course like the valley. That should help keep the useless mba people away.

      • by dlsmith (993896)
        Lower-level people aren't getting paid better if you raise their cost of living as much as (or more than) their increase in pay.
      • by chispito (1870390)

        Its GOOD that its more expensive. FORCE the companies to pay the lower level people better, and the upper level people worse.

        PLUS, its not a 5 minute drive to a golf course like the valley. That should help keep the useless mba people away.

        Because when companies have less money to spend, they trim off the top.

      • Its GOOD that its more expensive. FORCE the companies to pay the lower level people better

        You're a bit confused there - because despite them being paid better, they aren't any better off. They can still only afford a crappy place, etc... etc...

  • Suburbs seem to be the defining problem from my generation's perspective. It's a cultural wasteland. It lacks identity. And for a generation that has become almost entirely bound to the indoors, most of the proclaimed advantages are unnoticed. The mortgages that go with suburban living look like an anchor to a group that is already mostly overburdened with student loan debt. It looks like despair incarnate.

    It'll be a SLOW shift towards urbanization though. Huge chunks of the populace look at the subur

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:08PM (#40752001) Homepage

    The problem I have with the term is that it suggests that there's something morally wrong with offering somebody more salary / benefits / perks to change jobs, or with that somebody choosing to make the move to greener pastures.

    Employment is a 2-way street: My boss can choose to fire me at any time, I can choose to quit and do something else at any time. I understand that many employers would not like employees to be able to do that, but they can, and that's because they're your employees rather than your slaves.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:37PM (#40752433)

      and there's nothing that's going to stop your boss from firing you once you get to a certain age and replace you with some younger, cooler, but most definitely cheaper wage-slave anyway, and then you'll realise the whole thing is a bit of a sham.

      Not a lot that can be done about it really, the boss wants cheap labour and you want more money. I think the end result is a huge programmer shortage and a large benefit to off-shoring IT workers.

      Of course, your company and yourself could adopt a more progressive policy of long-term tenure of employment where people grow with a company, are trained to keep up with new technology and increase experience with the company's systems and business. But no-one's going to do that when there are short-term profits to be made!

  • by dorpus (636554) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:31PM (#40752323)

    They said the exact same thing when I lived in the Valley during the dot-com boom. Not everyone wants to pay $2,000 for an apartment that has the privilege of homeless people pissing on the doorstep, walking on streets that reek of sewage, daily encounters with street trash that threaten anyone who is dressed normally, or the dilemma of owning a car with no place to park vs. a car-free lifestyle that makes shopping so difficult. Yes, I love the car alarms that go off constantly, the buses roaring by all the time, the ugly eucalyptus trees that give off a powerful smell, the harsh cold wind from the bay combined with the harsh sunlight, the lack of air conditioned offices, the "vibrant nightlife" of stores that close down at 5PM, the tourists who treat you like a funny zoo animal, and the warm welcome one receives from other Americans for saying they live in San Francisco.

    • by crgrace (220738)

      That's one way to look at living in San Francisco, and it sounds to me you would be much better off living in the suburbs.

      There are so many positives living in San Francisco. Walking from my apartment to grocery shop or go to the hardware store. Tons of amazing restaurants around the corner. A gorgeous view (that changes all the time with the weather) from every hilltop. A glorious urban park with great museums and places to jog. Getting together with friends on the spur of the moment, without all of t

      • by dorpus (636554)

        Why yes, there is the Golden Gate Park with its ankle-breaking mole tunnels and shifty-eyed characters lurking in the woods. Or the architectural marvels of the KQED tower standing over the city like a half-built robot; the SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO: INDUSTRIAL CITY hill sign; and the Alcatraz with its concrete bunkers. I suppose the museums offer their share of pre-recorded whale sounds or Italian paintings that look like they were bought on a street corner in Rome. You wouldn't want to tell an SFer that the

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:37PM (#40752431) Homepage

    This happened during the first dot-com boom, too. Huge influx of twentysomethings. Then the dot-com boom collapsed, and the number of twentysomethings in SF dropped 40%. (A friend of mine who runs a hip hair salon and throws big parties said of this "and the ones who still have jobs are working their butts off.")

    The first dot-com boom moved into existing real estate. This time, there's extensive new construction.

    Silicon Valley may be in permanent decline. The last production wafer fab in the valley closed in 2008. With impressive systems on a chip like the Allwinner A10 from China selling for $7, the margins in semiconductors are far smaller than they used to be. That threatens Intel. HP is still a mess. Yahoo is collapsing. Microsoft just posted their first loss. Google and Apple continue to thrive, but Facebook seems to be on track to be the next Myspace.

  • Not Really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BadPirate (1572721) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:46PM (#40752621) Homepage

    the "Young Talent" companies only make up a small part of the tech industry out here. Silicon valley still has the largest and most successful of the tech industry at the moment in Software (Apple, Google) and even the older struggling giants (Yahoo), which represent a MAJOR force for employment, Apple's new campus in cupertino will hire and bring in more bodies to the valley then the next 100 SF startups (even assuming that by the time 100 startups have formed 50 of them haven't flopped).

    Years ago when I moved to Silicon Valley the ratio and rate was the same. There were "artsy" or "fun" gaming startup jobs (a few) available in SF, and there were startup jobs available here in SV. But the real hiring was being done by the big players, and those guys will never move to SF. The hub will remain. There is no "tipping point". Article is an opinion puff piece by a hipster looking San Francisco dweller - https://twitter.com/cscott_idg [twitter.com] who is obviously as biased about the subject as I am.

    Moving on.

  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:48PM (#40752643) Journal
    How odd. I would have thought that, of all places, Silicon Valley would have launched its "B" Ark full of all the PHBs who can't believe people can actually do their jobs while sitting at home in bunny-slippers.

    Fellow geeks - Telecommuting! We need to stop putting up with this "physical presence" crap and start making the number of days per month we actually go into the office a core negotiating point in any interview. "You want me Tuesdays and Thursdays? Okay, I want an extra week of vacation to make up for the needlessly wasted hours of my life spent in traffic to humor your delusions that I can somehow program better in an uncomfortable, harshly-lit, noisy environment surrounded by people who want to tell me all about what vile substance their kids/cats spewed on innocent bystanders this past weekend."


    / And let's not even talk about how I have a triplet of 28" monitors on my home workstation while getting a mere second 22-incher at work took nearly an act-of-god
    • @pla - i think we had the same thought process here. you beat me by about 10 minutes but everyone else reading my post below and put it together with this and you have a winning recipe.
    • by Stiletto (12066)

      Fellow geeks - Telecommuting! We need to stop putting up with this "physical presence" crap and start making the number of days per month we actually go into the office a core negotiating point in any interview. "You want me Tuesdays and Thursdays? Okay, I want an extra week of vacation to make up for the needlessly wasted hours of my life spent in traffic to humor your delusions that I can somehow program better in an uncomfortable, harshly-lit, noisy environment surrounded by people who want to tell me al

  • We've crossed this bridge many times before throughout the years from various articles.

    What happened to companies (especially high tech companies) allowing people to work from home? Maybe a visit to the office once every two weeks or maybe a monthly meeting for employee social time...sharing projects, dinner, etc etc. This means that you could employ people not even local to SF which is in the end overall cheaper(for everyone). There are many many bright people who live elsewhere in the US(many of them not single) that just dont want to live in this area for many different social, economical and political reasons.

    This also means you dont have to pay through the nose for a building that houses all the employees. Just room enough for the owner, the receptionist and a big open atrium/hall for company meetings when everyone is supposed to check in. I really don't think companies get it. Check out Art & Logic [artlogic.com]. All their employees work remote and they at least claim that they only look for the best and the brightest. Their clients are also big time companies.
  • Maybe living there is better than visiting, but every time I made the yearly drive to SF for the Software Development Expo, it was hell. Streets that seem nigh-vertical, an insane profusion of one-way streets -- in one case, two of them meeting in opposite directions at the top of a hill -- plus paying through the nose for parking. I was always glad to be back on I-80 and headed home.

    Not intended as a flame, I know there are people who love SF, but I like living in a post-WW2 horizontal city instead of a pr

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