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Diaspora of tech talent returns to the San Francisco Bay Area

Posted by Neha De

July 23, 2021    |     2-minute read (463 words)

The year 2020 saw an exodus of young, highly educated tech talent who made great money from Silicon Valley and the entire Bay Area region. The coronavirus pandemic added to other issues such as astronomical rents, high taxes, rising crime rates and bumper-to-bumper traffic pushed even affluent tech workers to shift out — the (somewhat forced) option of being able to work remotely provided a massive boost to the mass departure, too. At the same time, tech companies in smaller cities, such as Austin, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, started to see an increase in job applications from candidates living in San Francisco. The collective sentiment seemed to be that the region was losing its luster as a tech hub. 

Things seemed to have taken a U-turn in year two of the pandemic, now that the vaccination rates are on the uptick. More than 80% of eligible San Francisco residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with nearly 70% of all San Franciscans fully vaccinated — which has also led to the easing of several COVID-related restrictions. And it is not just the tech giants including Google, Facebook, Uber, Twitter and Salesforce that have reopened their Bay Area office doors once again; there are other companies that are now moving base to San Francisco. One such company is Upwork — a digital marketplace for freelancers — which is planning to move its headquarters from Santa Clara to San Francisco.

While there are employees who would still prefer to continue to work remotely, there are plenty who are seemingly eager to return to a normal work setting. The latter set of workers seem to be missing the hustle and bustle of big city life — getting coffee or drinks with colleagues after work, running into acquaintances on the street and meeting new people. 

Added to these reasons are more tech-specific rationales, including a network of tech workers to engage with and the wealth of venture capitalists in the region, especially for those getting a startup off the ground. According to the 2021 Silicon Valley Index, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, “2020 was a record year for venture capital ($46 billion), which fueled a record 67 megadeals in Silicon Valley and 41 in San Francisco. The region is also home to an elite-eight of 12 U.S. Decacorns — private companies valued at more than $10 billion.” 

Additionally, San Francisco managed to retain its top position on CBRE’s Annual Scoring Tech Talent Report. According to the report, North American tech talent employment handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than most other professions. In fact, the Bay Area’s tech firms are not only playing a key role in helping the economy recover, they are also poised to offer massive growth opportunities for tech-enabled services accelerated by the coronavirus disruption.

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