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High Tech Companies Becoming Fools For the City

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the mass-transit-best-among-the-masses dept.

Businesses 276

theodp writes "Drawn by amenities and talent, the WSJ reports that tech firms are saying goodbye to office parks and opting for cities. Pinterest, Zynga, Yelp, Square, Twitter, and Salesforce.com are some of the more notable tech companies who are taking up residence in San Francisco. New York City's Silicon Alley is now home to more than 500 new start-up companies like Kickstarter and Tumblr, not to mention the gigantic Google satellite in the old Port Authority Building. London, Seattle, and even downtown Las Vegas are also seeing infusions of techies. So, why are tech companies eschewing Silicon Valley and going all Fool for the City? 'Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl,' Paul Graham presciently explained in 2006. 'It has fabulous weather, which makes it significantly better than the soul-crushing sprawl of most other American cities. But a competitor that managed to avoid sprawl would have real leverage.'"

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276 comments

Soul Crushing? (2, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204903)

'Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl,' ...

And a city is "soul-crushing urban sprawl".

Big difference!

Re:Soul Crushing? (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204925)

Even Manhattan is so small that you can walk across it in less than an hour. The length of it can be walked in 3. That's hardly "sprawl".

The soul-crushing part rather depends on the person, but I don't know many who pine for the suburbs. People roughly fall into urban and rural preferences... I'm sure there are people who revel in suburban life, but it's just not something you run into that often (and I live in the suburbs). Most of the people I know moved to the suburbs because they have kids and want access to the good schools. Of course, I have selection bias since I myself have kids and therefore mostly meet other parents. I confess to knowing one neighbor who retired to our suburb because they were tired of Manhattan.

Re:Soul Crushing? (5, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205149)

Yep, the parent poster misses the point. People like cities because that's where the cool stuff is concentrated. We aren't talking about cities in terms of the boundaries of the municipality but rather the city centers where culture thrives.

Restaurants, shops, galleries, theaters, sports venues, you name it. Who in their right mind would choose a sterile office park with a subway franchise as the only choice for lunch when you could be near world class cuisine? And be within walking distance of a cultural event after work?

Cities aren't soul crushing, they're the geographic locus of the human soul.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

philipmather (864521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205739)

Exactly, that describes London to a tee.

"Uban sprawl" - Since about the 17th Century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_London#London_in_the_1660s)
Painfully expensive - Check
Traffic congestion - Check
Smelly - Check
Noisy - Check
"soul-crushing" - Can be

Restaurants, shops, galleries, theatres, sports venues - some of the best in the world.
Boring - Nope

Re:Soul Crushing? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204927)

'Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl,' ...

And a city is "soul-crushing urban sprawl".

Big difference!

But... are there many suburban homes with basement?

Re:Soul Crushing? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41204933)

totally agree

I cannot imagine anything more soul crushing that just being reminded that you have no identity, no visibility, and that you are little more than just one of the teeming horde which is exactly how I feel when I am in downtown anywhere. It might help if the cities he mentioned had any soul but I grew up in San Fran and let me tell you, after hours its a ghost town, and at other times of the day it is just a constant reminder of how completely f*ck*d we are as a society. the problem is not where the company is, the problem is the company itself.

Re:Soul Crushing? (4, Informative)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204997)

I grew up in San Fran and let me tell you, after hours its a ghost town,

Huh? You might want to travel outside a 3-block radius of the Transamerica building.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205093)

I suspect he grew up either outside San Francisco or in one of the residential areas (like Sunset). Certainly it is a "ghost town" compared to Manhattan, but then people don't live in tightly-packed 35-story buildings either. The Castro certainly isn't dead after hours, whenever they are :)

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205165)

Hey the Sunset is a happening place! 9th and Irving.

I would expect someone who grew up in the city to figure out how to get from Lake Merced or wherever to the part of town where there is stuff going on. You don't find yourself in the ghost town part of San Francisco by accident--the locals have to work really, really hard to keep fun stuff from infiltrating.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205475)

Forgive my ignorance :) My time in San Francisco is almost entirely as a visitor (my then-girlfriend lived there for 4 years). I never witnessed any "ghost town", except up in the hills of Sunset. But they are equally deserted during the day.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205445)

On weekends, sure. And there used to be clubs open late dotted around. But most of those have been gentrified and during the week even the Haight or the Castro is deadsville after the businesses close. Sure, closing time is later, but they still roll up the sidewalks.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205505)

But "ghost town" compared to what? The Valley?

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205785)

But "ghost town" compared to what? The Valley?

Cities that never sleep. I've never been to any of those, but I'm led to believe there's a number of them throughout the world. SF is not one of those; it definitely has a bedtime that only* coffee addicts, eternal partiers, street sweepers, car thieves and crackheads habitually ignore.

* (Statistically)

Re:Soul Crushing? (3, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205457)

It might help if the cities he mentioned had any soul but I grew up in San Fran and let me tell you, after hours its a ghost town, and at other times of the day it is just a constant reminder of how completely f*ck*d we are as a society.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I moved to SF as a single person. My parents, who lived in the suburban sprawl of Phoenix, AZ, were always worried about me. It was hard for them to imagine that there were vibrant communities throughout the entire city that provided safety for everyone living in the area. In fact, I don't know of a single area in SF proper that there aren't corner stores and eateries that are open past midnight.

It was also hard for them to realize that it was relatively easy to become friends with owners and other patrons of all these corner spots, and we'd all eventually come to care for each other. If something happened to one of us, the rest of us would inquire what was happening, if there were anything any of us could do, whatever. Of course they couldn't understand that. Suburbs just don't offer that.

If anything is a ghost town, it's suburban America. But I can assure you, such a compact, diverse city as SF is hardly a ghost town. Growing up in SF, surely you realize that you never had to travel many blocks to find plenty of human activity. If not, you were most likely a shut-in.

Re:Soul Crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205705)

Twenty-year resident, right here and yeah; it shutters after 0300 for sure. Sure, there's Sparky's, some stuff in the mission (RIP Big Heart City), but just your options narrow incredibly to things that involve house music, and I'm just not that into it. It's not much better than Portland in that regard. People who think it's a city with it's big-boy pants on have simply never been to Manhattan. Whole. Other. Level.

And to the trans-america building comment... yeaaah; nobody lives in the financial district, homie.

Re:Soul Crushing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205711)

If anything is a ghost town, it's suburban America. But I can assure you, such a compact, diverse city as SF is hardly a ghost town. Growing up in SF, surely you realize that you never had to travel many blocks to find plenty of human activity.

Yeah, but most of us aren't gay.

Re:Soul Crushing? (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204955)

Well, here's what I think they're after: City centers (assuming there is a city center, not all cities have them), tend to be areas filled with the things that make the city unique: tourist attractions, public artwork, nifty historical architecture, headquarters skyscrapers of well-known businesses, etc. Suburban office parks tend to be identical no matter where you go: big glass boxes, concrete and glass boxes, brick and glass boxes, sometimes some marble veneers on the glass boxes, mixed with a variety of chain restaurants to feed the lunch crowd.

Another way of looking at it: If you work in a suburban office park, describe how it's different in any significant way from the one portrayed in Office Space.

Re:Soul Crushing? (2)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205343)

Another way of looking at it: If you work in a suburban office park, describe how it's different in any significant way from the one portrayed in Office Space.

Wait, urban business don't have cube farms? For me personally, living in a city would be like my entire life is Office Space. Work in a cube, come home to a cube of an apartment. Except that the cube of an apartment is ridiculously expensive.

Re:Soul Crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205361)

Its the lure of the night life. After hours in NYC is awesome. Drinks with co-workers especially the cute girl from accounting bring in the young, talented but socially awkward hackers. Then its off to Babylon on 34th street for hooka and dancing.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205653)

simple. When the VC dollars dry up, at least cities offer hope to newly out of work nerds.
Office parks in suburban satellites tend to only offer retail and food service opportunities when the large companies crawl out.

Re:Soul Crushing? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205875)

> And a city is "soul-crushing urban sprawl".

Soul-crushing urban lack of sprawl.

Cities are nice places to go to to do stuff, but I'll take a house in the suburbs any day and drive down there on a highway. It's the way God intended it to be.

finally (0)

hey (83763) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204909)

I hate the suburbs.

Re:finally (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41204939)

I hate the suburbs.

I like having my own garage and not being robbed even if I accidentally leave the door wide open.

Re:finally (5, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205139)

I like that part, too. I also like the good schools, the relatively clean air, the quiet, and the ease of getting away from people if you want.

I hate that Chiles is considered an acceptable place to eat. I hate driving everywhere... the sheer insanity of driving to a gym so that you can exercise! I hate the lack of economic and ethnic diversity (though we are in an "old" suburb with at least some of that). Most of all, I hate the static blandness of it all. Same chain stores as you get anywhere else in the US. When we have house guests, we have to all drive somewhere to do something unique... often that means going... to the city!

Re:finally (2)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205367)

I hate driving everywhere... the sheer insanity of driving to a gym so that you can exercise!

You have a house. Why not buy some gym equipment and setup an exercise area? Heck it would easily pay itself back considering how expensive gym memberships are.

Re:finally (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205463)

The inefficiency of that is just as mind-boggling. Equipment that sits unused 23 hours a day.

In my case, the reason is that I bought a "lifetime membership" many years ago at Bally's that still lives on today. I pay $15/month and that includes a pool and works at any LA Fitness.

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205589)

I hate to disprove this but no setting up a home gym that's even remotely comparable to the gym would take your entire life to pay off. I'm not sure of the national average but at a major chain it's 30/month. It's 360 a year. It would take between 3-5 years to pay off a single piece of equipment. To just reach a basic level of parity it would take atleast 15 years not including various equipment breakdowns. So no, the membership is cheaper because i'm not even factoring in the lost space and breakdowns not to mention newer equipment breakthroughs.

As for the topic itself, it's a push question. Calling the city foolish implies the answer already. I've always been a city dweller but I understand those who like suburbia and rural zones. The ultimate issue is that the world is becoming more urban. The tech world sees that and moved with the trend. The young start ups are naturally urban due to the low cost of start up space & the natural benefits that come with it.

Also office parks are horrible places to be. They waste space, they usually are architecturally sterile, and generally they lack a good flow plan for both traffic & humanity. In other words they are just bad.

Re:finally (1)

Gorobei (127755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205323)

I hate the suburbs.

I like having my own garage and not being robbed even if I accidentally leave the door wide open.

I like not having a garage and not having a car either. And I leave my front and back doors unlocked (yeah for doorman buildings.)

Soul-crushing? (4, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204929)

I grew up in midwest suburbs, and I don't think my childhood was "soul crushing". If you don't like the suburbs, well that's fine. You are welcome to not live there. But I just don't get the hateful crusade against them. I personally enjoyed having a decent sized yard as a kid.

Re:Soul-crushing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41204969)

I love it when cocks get jammed into my snappyhole and they cum everywhere until my snap is a turtleneck of cum!

We were lucky (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205009)

But I just don't get the hateful crusade against them. I personally enjoyed having a decent sized yard as a kid

"Decent sized yard" is the key. Many, all too many, suburbs don't have greenspace (parks and other places to play) or if they do they are driving distance for most kids. In my suburban neighborhood, the yards are on half acre or less plots, the nearest park is 5 miles away, and the kids have really no where to play outside; so they stay indoors playing video games and getting obese.

When developers build a subdivision in suburbia, they put as many homes in the development as they can to maximize their profits - to state the obvious. Any amenities are an after thought and poorly designed - usually it's just a "clubhouse" and a shitty pool that's too small to do laps in; such as some kidney shaped thing to lounge around to work on one's melanoma. We have tennis courts but they were built in an area that the developer couldn't put a house so he put tennis courts there - which are constantly being vandalized by the little shits who have nothing better to do.

Why do folks live there? Schools. To have their kids go to a better school.

Decent sized yards are usually found in areas where the zoning boards force developers to a minimum sized plot that allows for the decent sized yard - like my parent's house where I grew up. The minimum building lot was an acre and as a result I also grew up with a decent sized yard.

Re:We were lucky (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205729)

Why do folks live there? Schools. To have their kids go to a better school.

Otherwise stated as "schools without any blacks or hispanics".

Re:Soul-crushing? (1, Troll)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205037)

But I just don't get the hateful crusade against them.

Jealousy. Won't come out and honestly say they're jealous of not being able to afford it, so you get mindless blather like "nah nah naa boo boo you suuuuck sooouls nah nah naa boo boo you suuuuck souuuls!" repeat until nauseated. Apparently that's what passes for a detailed logical engineering analysis of why suburb life is worse than urban life. There's some spite to it too, I can only afford to live in squalor so I'll feel better if everyone else has to live in squalor too. Also a little stockholm syndrome where we'll all cheer each other up in the slum by telling ourselves that our dump is really better than someone else's nice place, maybe if we tell it to ourselves enough times we'll actually believe it? There tends to be a bit of immaturity-effect, so if the parents like X (where X might be suburbs, or rock music, etc) then rebellious teenagers (of any actual chronological age) will declare their undying love of -X (where -X might be urban living, or hip hop, etc). Its stealth ageism, in that if you're 23 its time for an exciting adventure, being a crime victim is something that happens to someone else and could never happen to me, and you have no responsibilities (aka spouse and kids), so the city is great fun and adventure, but by 30 its time to move somewhere civilized... right about the time your employer is ready to downsize you for the next wave of cheap recent grads, so mass publicity about moving HQ into an urban environment is kind of a legal "over 25 need not apply" sign. Closely related to the stealth ageism thing there's a "can't keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paris" effect where you can transition from a dumpy dorm directly to a dumpy city as a 22 year old kid, but once you've had a job in a civilized area out in the burbs its hard to stomach downgrading to urban lifestyle again, so its another "older people need not apply" sign... Finally there tends to be the idea that urban living is "new" so if you're trying to hide from yourself or don't like yourself or "just have issues", then maybe trying something new like moving to the city will help... unfortunately where-ever you go, there you are, so as a "find yourself" activity moving to the big city is not likely to be as successful as, say, one of the more atheistic branches of Buddhism or perhaps psychotherapy, or rephrased "if you're running from something, then the process of running matters a much more than where you're running toward"

Re:Soul-crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205063)

Midwest suburbia with a giant house is far cheaper than a 1BR apartment in New York or San Francisco.

Re:Soul-crushing? (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205201)

You have it exactly backwards. The house and yard and good schools are all far, far, cheaper than living in Manhattan or San Francisco. If you can swing rent on a 2-bedroom in NYC (around $3500/mo when we left a few years ago), you can afford just about any suburban house you want in the midwest - pool, yard, the whole shebang. Probably even afford a BMW or two for the driveway.

We moved to the suburbs primarily (maybe only?) for the schools.

Re:Soul-crushing? (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205415)

Not only is it cheaper to live in suburbia than in The City, but it's also shittier than living in The Country which is still cheaper than living in suburbia. Suburbia is where people who work in the city live when they can't afford to live in the city except in squalor amidst the cockroaches, and where people who want to live in the country live when they have to work in the city and the commute would be too long.

Re:Soul-crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205451)

Jealousy. Won't come out and honestly say they're jealous of not being able to afford it, so you get mindless blather like "nah nah naa boo boo you suuuuck sooouls nah nah naa boo boo you suuuuck souuuls!" repeat until nauseated.

Do you have any idea how much it costs to live in a city? Actually, why am I asking -- if you did, you wouldn't say something so profoundly stupid as what you said above.

I could buy a palatial mansion in the suburbs for what I pay here in the city for a 1 bedroom.

Apparently that's what passes for a detailed logical engineering analysis of why suburb life is worse than urban life. There's some spite to it too, I can only afford to live in squalor so I'll feel better if everyone else has to live in squalor too. Also a little stockholm syndrome where we'll all cheer each other up in the slum by telling ourselves that our dump is really better than someone else's nice place, maybe if we tell it to ourselves enough times we'll actually believe it? There tends to be a bit of immaturity-effect, so if the parents like X (where X might be suburbs, or rock music, etc) then rebellious teenagers (of any actual chronological age) will declare their undying love of -X (where -X might be urban living, or hip hop, etc). Its stealth ageism, in that if you're 23 its time for an exciting adventure, being a crime victim is something that happens to someone else and could never happen to me, and you have no responsibilities (aka spouse and kids), so the city is great fun and adventure, but by 30 its time to move somewhere civilized... right about the time your employer is ready to downsize you for the next wave of cheap recent grads, so mass publicity about moving HQ into an urban environment is kind of a legal "over 25 need not apply" sign. Closely related to the stealth ageism thing there's a "can't keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paris" effect where you can transition from a dumpy dorm directly to a dumpy city as a 22 year old kid, but once you've had a job in a civilized area out in the burbs its hard to stomach downgrading to urban lifestyle again, so its another "older people need not apply" sign... Finally there tends to be the idea that urban living is "new" so if you're trying to hide from yourself or don't like yourself or "just have issues", then maybe trying something new like moving to the city will help... unfortunately where-ever you go, there you are, so as a "find yourself" activity moving to the big city is not likely to be as successful as, say, one of the more atheistic branches of Buddhism or perhaps psychotherapy, or rephrased "if you're running from something, then the process of running matters a much more than where you're running toward"

Are you sure you're not the jealous one? Or possibly just a bit nuts?

Re:Soul-crushing? (5, Informative)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205097)

There are suburbs and there are suburbs.

Evanston, IL, is a pre-WWII suburb where you can take the El into Chicago, and can walk to the park, to the grocery store, to a restaurant, to a bookstore. There is a mix of detached single-family homes and apartment buildings.

The suburb where I grew up in California is 30 miles outside of Sacramento. You can walk to... well you can walk to another house. If you want to go anywhere else, you have to drive. Most people commute more than 45 minutes to work. There is a mix of large detached single-family homes and larger detached single-family homes. (Because the locals will scream bloody murder if anyone attempts to build apartment buildings. Something about "property values" and making the community accessible to skeezy people such as singles, childless couples, and people who can't qualify for a mortgage.)

If you grew up in a suburb like Evanston, I understand where you're coming from. If you grew up in a place like I did and loved it, I must conclude you do not have a soul to be crushed.

Re:Soul-crushing? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205429)

For my own education please elaborate on how

you have to drive

automagically translates to

soul to be crushed.

Something really weird and bad must be happening to some of you people when you sit in a car, thats never happened to me so I can't relate. Driving my car is not like those idiotic car commercials where its always a joyride in a empty nature preserve and when I park I'm instantly surrounded by supermodels, but driving is not that awful of a soul crushing experience, either. The drive is frankly not very important or noteworthy compared to the destination. Soul crushing is urban, like your neighbor's kid was in the crossfire got shot and died, or your car/house/garage was broken into for the fifth time, or you were mugged again, etc.

Re:Soul-crushing? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205561)

Something really weird and bad must be happening to some of you people when you sit in a car, thats never happened to me so I can't relate.

You have to sit on your ass in in a massive air conditioned box just to get anywhere. Then when you get there, you have to circle around the massive parking lot to find a spot, possible battling it out with some asshole who decided to cut in line in front of you. Then you haul your groceries out to the car, sit down for another 20-30 minutes, get cut off by *another* asshole on the freeway. Maybe you pull over to a Starbucks, where park again, wait in line for some sugar-drenched coffee.

Compare to:

I walk outside, down the block, stop at Whole Foods, pick out what I want and check out. They set up a delivery for me later that day. While I'm out I walk by my favorite bakery and pick up some scones, and then stop by my favorite coffee place (there are about 10 to choose from in a 4 block radius) to sit and have some coffee and read. I decide that it's such a nice day out that I'd like to go to central park, so I hope on the uptown subway that's around the corner, and 10 minutes later, I'm there. I stroll through the park -- not having had to find somewhere to park my car -- and then realize that it's getting to be about time for my delivery from Whole Foods. I pop back on the subway and am back home in 10 minutes.

Or, if I'm really lazy, I just don't leave the couch, order all my groceries from Fresh Direct, and just let them deliver them to me. That way I can spend my time doing other things than grocery shopping or driving.

Soul crushing is urban, like your neighbor's kid was in the crossfire got shot and died, or your car/house/garage was broken into for the fifth time, or you were mugged again, etc.

Yes, that happens *all the time*. Oh wait, no it doesn't.

Re:Soul-crushing? (2)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205675)

driving is not that awful of a soul crushing experience, either. The drive is frankly not very important or noteworthy compared to the destination.

It's not the driving, so much as it is all the stuff that has to be wiped out to make room for huge freeways and parking lots. But it's also the driving. When you have a highly populated area where everyone drives, you get sprawl, and with sprawl comes longer commutes. It is not uncommon to have longer than an hour commute in the Bay Area. Two hours a day in traffic isn't soul crushing? Maybe you've just never experienced anything better.

Soul crushing is urban, like your neighbor's kid was in the crossfire got shot and died, or your car/house/garage was broken into for the fifth time, or you were mugged again, etc.

WTF are you talking about? Have you spent any significant time in San Francisco? We're not all living The Wire out here. I lived there more than a decade and never experienced any violent crime. There is some bad shit going down in the Bayview / Hunters Point area, but in 10 years I never went anywhere near there. My experience in the Richmond District is about as far removed from urban gangbanging as any suburbanite's.

Re:Soul-crushing? (4, Interesting)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205775)

I can't speak for the adult experience of living in a suburb, but as a child growing up there, "You have to drive to get anywhere" means "Unless you're friends with the neighbors or have a car, there is nothing to do."

I didn't get my driver's license until I was about 18, which means that if I wanted to go somewhere, I was begging friends or family for a ride. I perhaps could have gotten on my bike and rode a half hour through traffic, without sidewalks or bike lanes (I have a few times, uncomfortably; also, this was Texas, where temperatures are often 100+ in the summer) to get to a small variety of stores, but I couldn't get, for example, to the mall, or a decently interesting strip mall.

And asking parents for a ride...? They commuted an hour each day to get to their jobs and were not terribly interested in jumping in the car just to satisfy my boredom. It probably would have been easier if I'd had older friends, but I didn't.

Everywhere I wanted to be and everyone I wanted to be with I couldn't reach without begging someone and potentially making them upset. So yes, I would say it crushed my soul a bit.

Re:Soul-crushing? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205527)

You make it sound like eliminating people more prone to breaking into your house or preventing large, ugly tenements from entering your area is a bad thing. I get how the spread makes suburbs sort of cultural wastelands, but honestly, there has to be a better solution to a cultural problem than increasing your crime rate and turning it into an ugly, smelly concrete jungle.

Personally, I don't mind driving 40 minutes to get to a metro area for some culture if it means that I can leave the bad parts behind when I leave. By having mobility, I can also drive 40 minutes to *another* metro area nearby to get some extra culture.

Big cities are exciting, I get that. And young people are probably happy to go to places where it's like high school and college and there is a high population density and stuff to do in walking distance. However, the whole thing gets old after awhile.

Re:Soul-crushing? (1)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205837)

there has to be a better solution to a cultural problem than increasing your crime rate and turning it into an ugly, smelly concrete jungle.

At what point did I describe Evanston, IL as a crime-ridden, ugly, smelly concrete jungle? It's a nice suburb where you can have your car and your yard but it's also not too sprawly. Problem is we don't build them like that any more.

Re:Soul-crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205871)

I think you're right. It depends how you want top balance your life. I travel a lot between Austin and Portland, and they seem (despite the weather) similar to me, but for some strange reason y feel I have less access to public transportation and I have to drive anywhere in Austin. But that again is in perspective of the neighborhood and what you perceive as surroundings and if you think they are fairly close to you.

Re:Soul-crushing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205389)

I don't get it either. I personally love living in a "single family dwelling" and not sharing walls with neighbors. I particularly like not having neighbors tromping about on my ceilings. And yes, I lived in the city for more than three years. My wife and I made a pact that as long as we lived there, we'd spend as little time in the apartment as possible. So we actually got out and used the city for what it was good for -- restaurants, music, museums, plays, etc. And yes, we made extensive use of public transport. But living in an apartment block is a noisy nasty experience. Just is.

The 'burbs OTOH, are nice. It's quiet, it's clean, it smells nice. There are neighbors with dogs. You can sit out with friends on a deck overlooking a nice yard. There's this privacy thing (that most of us /.ers think is dead, but which lives on in the 'burbs).

People who claim that everyone wants density need to look around. If everyone wanted density, sprawl wouldn't exist. Everyone would move to the big cities. But they don't. The fastest growing places in the USA are not cities -- it's (still) the 'burbs. Because people *like* suburban sprawl. They do. I do. If that offends you, get over it, and move to the city. Quit trying to convince me that I don't like where I've chosen to live. It makes you sound like an idiot.

amenities = low rent? (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204941)

Drawn by amenities

Locally the only amenity offered by "the big city" over the suburbs is incredibly low rent because no one wants to work there. Crippling decaying infrastructure, one of the worst ranked school systems in the nation (no one between 25-50 wants to live here unless they're rich enough for private schools), extremely high crime, police don't respond to anyone not actively bleeding or shooting (that was weird to discover), one of the most racially segregated cities in the North (burbs are much more multicultural, weird but true), no parking so only locals are allowed, filthy, crippling tax/license/fee burdens, larger scale corruption in govt (note the burbs are almost as corrupt, just not quite as big). So why would anyone voluntarily work there? Oh, I see, rents are about a tenth the cost of equivalent rent in the burbs, assuming you can find burb space at similar level of squalor.

Don't ague that world class cities are better than my "top 20 city". World class cities are surrounded by world class suburbs, so Again the only reason to locate in the city is low rents.

There are exceptions where there are pretty good high rent locations squashed up against water features. They don't matter, less than 1% of the population lives and works there. For the 99% of the remaining population, the big cities suck.

Re:amenities = low rent? (3, Insightful)

superdude72 (322167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205039)

I just have to make sure... you're talking about San Francisco, right? I lived there for more than a decade and never felt particularly unsafe, so I'm not sure what city you're talking about with this "extremely high crime."

no parking so only locals are allowed

This seems to be what your complaint really boils down to. Just take transit. Eventually you might find you prefer a 20-minute bus ride to an hour commute from some soul-crushing suburb, and you will start to appreciate the urban amenities that are available to you that are impossible for a car-dependent suburb to offer.

Re:amenities = low rent? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205425)

This seems to be what your complaint really boils down to. Just take transit. Eventually you might find you prefer a 20-minute bus ride to an hour commute from some soul-crushing suburb, and you will start to appreciate the urban amenities that are available to you that are impossible for a car-dependent suburb to offer.

You had me until this nonsense. The public transportation system in SF is shit. Not only is it dirty and peopled with smelly dirtmerchants, and I say this as someone who has probably been described that way at least once (I wear Tevas, sue me) but it is also patently useless unless you are a paraplegic and the alternative is trying to roll yourself up hills. When I lived there I could drive to work including parking in fifteen minutes or take bus, light rail, and a bus for over an hour.

Re:amenities = low rent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205647)

You had me until this nonsense. The public transportation system in SF is shit. Not only is it dirty and peopled with smelly dirtmerchants, and I say this as someone who has probably been described that way at least once (I wear Tevas, sue me) but it is also patently useless unless you are a paraplegic and the alternative is trying to roll yourself up hills. When I lived there I could drive to work including parking in fifteen minutes or take bus, light rail, and a bus for over an hour.

Unfortunately true. It took me 10 minutes to get to work by bicycle, 45 minutes to get to work by train, 60 minutes to get to work by bus.

A huge portion of that time would be spent waiting for a fucking N Judah to show up, and then waiting for the next one because the fucking late N Judah was full by the time it got to my stop.

San Francisco is a pisshole of homelessness and crappy transportation. I moved to New York a few years back, and now every time I visit SF I'm amazed at how much of a human shithole it can be. I'm not sure if it's getting worse, or if I've just gotten used to living in a place with great transportation and a low tolerance for crackheads defecating on the sidewalk.

Reminds me of this:

Human waste shuts down BART escalators:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Human-waste-shuts-down-BART-escalators-3735981.php

Re:amenities = low rent? (1, Insightful)

MisterSquid (231834) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205699)

When I lived there I could drive to work including parking in fifteen minutes or take bus, light rail, and a bus for over an hour.

If you're telling the truth, your data/anecdote is of times past because there is nowhere in SF you can drive and park in 15 minutes that would take over an hour by public transit. To be honest, your story doesn't pass the smell test.

But disregarding that, I think what many SF commuters overlook is the speed of foot power.

I used to walk 25 minutes one-way to work. One of my co-workers was surprised I'd walk from Polk Gulch to the Financial District. He kept remarking how far that was. I could have taken public transit (MUNI) but that would mean waiting for the bus (5-10 minutes), taking the bus (10-15 minutes), and walking the rest of the way (5-7 minutes) for a boundary total of 20-32 minutes. Much faster (and fun) walking.

But now I ride my bike. I obey the traffic signals but because I don't have to queue behind automobiles (which even motorcycles have to do) my commute is 4 minutes to work (downhill) and 6 minutes back.

Re:amenities = low rent? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205773)

Of course my anecdote is in the past. I used past tense, right?

I think what many SF commuters overlook is the speed of foot power.

Yes, I would have been able to walk the route in under an hour, probably, and should have done. I was in a lazy, depressed phase. Now I'm just lazy.

Re:amenities = low rent? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205619)

Having been on buses and mass transit, I would very much prefer the hour commute to the 20 minute bus ride. And it seems to me that people keep saying that the commute or whatever is soul-crushing, but I don't feel particularly crushed. About the only time it is even sort of like that is rush hour traffic, and even then, that's just like mass transit in the city, except on the Interstate, I can be annoyed in my own air-conditioned car playing my own music and thinking my own thoughts, while in the city, I can be annoyed while being inadvertently felt up by the people crammed into the same bus and or subway car I'm in. I've been on mass transit in cities like SF, New York, DC and London, and I can tell you, they're useful to get around on, if you have to, but there's no way I want that to be my daily commute.

And San Francisco is a nice place to be, for an urban area, but there are definitely places you can feel unsafe in. I remember taking a nice walk, thinking what a nice city SF was, and then very suddenly finding myself in an area where things looked broken down and bums are just sitting in clumps on the street and people in general are staring at me. It was like I had inadvertently walked through some force field or something into a penal colony. It was at that point that I realized that there had been a reason the SF cops were pulled up and just hanging out near where I was staying. They were the implied checkpoint that ensured what was on those other blocks didn't actually enter the pretty part.

Re:amenities = low rent? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205105)

World class cities are surrounded by world class suburbs...

And world class smog and traffic jams from the damn commuters. I feel very fortunate that our particular suburb had world class train service to the city, but few other places do.

Re:amenities = low rent? (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205227)

San Francisco and New York are what we are talking about here, not Detroit or wherever you are referring to. Internet companies are NOT moving in droves to Detroit or Cleveland or whatever.

Re:amenities = low rent? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205583)

Except that New York is at least mostly an awesome city (by which I mean there are lots of cool neighborhoods, and a few really nice areas i'd consider living in if I didn't have a 1 year old child). Amazing restaurants and bars, cool cultural activities, and you generally don't get accosted by homeless people with every step you take. San Francisco is mostly a shitdump by these same metrics. The peninsula (and parts of the south bay), however, are awesome suburbs. By which I mean stuff is definitely spread out and mostly requires driving from point to point, but there are tons of great parks, good restaurants, and most importantly a large number of nice, smart and really interesting people.

I grew up in the suburbs of South Florida, and you can't say any of those nice things about that area. I found South Florida soul crushing, but other if you set your job and home up to avoid long commutes and bad traffic, there is nothing any more soul crushing about the Bay Area than lower Manhattan. Mind you, the nice areas of the Peninsula and lower Manhattan happen to be two of the most expensive areas in the country. Such is the case with any desirable place to live.

In summary - suburbs don't all suck, and neither do all cities. I've lived in both and can say this with some confidence.

Re:amenities = low rent? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205673)

You are right.

To generalize some more, older suburbs tend to be less soul-crushing than newer suburbs. They often have a bit more of their infrastructure sorted, and if they are 70+ years old, they predate the highway and so probably were developed by the railroads... thus usually having sidewalks, downtowns, and possibly even still having a commuter rail. There are also "accidental" suburbs. Pre-existing villages and towns that the sprawl eventually came out to meet. Often those are walkable and have downtowns, even if they are technically now part of the suburbs.

The tradeoff is usually that those old places have old houses, which tend to be inefficient and expensive to maintain.

Re:amenities = low rent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205269)

You live in Baltimore too?

Re:amenities = low rent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205273)

we get it, there are black people there.

get over it

High cost of living is attractive? (3, Interesting)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204949)

I've always wondered about that lol. Why are the tech companies almost always attracted to areas with exceptionally high cost of living? Must be something I'm missing.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205007)

Those areas have high costs of living BECAUSE they are attractive! People don't bust their ass at Stanford and MIT so they can live in North Dakota. If you want the best talent you have to be in place where the best talent wants to be. People from elite schools aren't interested in living in some hill billy backwater just so they can save 3% on sales tax or some other pissant shit low income tea party losers whine about. My guess is you've never lived in a world class city before.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205025)

I graduated from MIT and live in rural Indiana. I've lived in NYC and Chicago.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205689)

I graduated from the school of self-study then moved halfway round the planet to work in Stockholm. My conclusion after several years in Europe is that Americans simply do not know how to build a decent city.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205087)

Young kids love to be packed into apartments they share with roommates and spend all their money on going out to eat and partying

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205237)

I've lived in top class cities and graduated from MIT. Suburban Midwest towns definitely win.

Cheaper, lower crime rates, easier to get around due to parking availability, better out door areas, etc.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205459)

Cheaper, lower crime rates, easier to get around due to parking availability, better out door areas, etc.

Easier to get around due to parking availability? What kind of crapass "top class city" did you live in?

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (1)

RichMeatyTaste (519596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205023)

Raleigh, NC (RTP) being the exception, which is why a lot of tech companies move here.

Before anyone chimes in with redneck jokes, let me assure you that Raleigh/Cary is full of transplants. I go days at a time without hearing a southern accent. Living in Raleigh/Cary is nothing like the "typical south", as people like to call it.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205195)

Before anyone chimes in with redneck jokes, let me assure you that Raleigh/Cary is full of transplants. I go days at a time without hearing a southern accent. Living in Raleigh/Cary is nothing like the "typical south", as people like to call it.

Which is why people in the surrounding areas wish you arrogant pricks would go back to wherever the hell you came from.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (1)

RichMeatyTaste (519596) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205503)

I'm not from one of those "arrogant" cities (Columbus, OH), but I do know a bit about what you are talking about.

Unfortunately the area does not produce enough tech workers that the area needs so people relocate. Blame us "yankees" (or Californians) all you want but the truth is without us RTP would not have grown as much as it has. I realize the city is suffering from growing pains, but given that you have Cisco (huge campus), EMC (global datacenter, one of only 3 global manufacturing facilities, and multiple offices including sales and engineering), NetApp (huge campus), Lenovo, Epic Games, Citrix, Microsoft, countless biomedical companies, etc, etc, etc I think things have turned out rather well.

Re:High cost of living is attractive? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205061)

other way around.. attractive places have high cost of living, because, gosh, people want to live there and there's a limited supply.

Compare the weather somewhere like La Jolla/UCSD to Baltimore/JHU. If you were a researcher, you'll probably spend your time in the lab, but when you do emerge, it's generally a heck of a lot nicer in La Jolla than B'more.

Last month, they had several thousand people outside at 10PM watching MSL land. Could you reliably plan such an event anywhere else in the U.S.? In the summer: Thunderstorms and rain in the east coast would be typical. Devoured by bugs in the midwest, potentially combined with thunderstorms. Houston? N.O. pretty hot and muggy to be sitting around outside for 3 hours.

Sure there are times of year when the mid-atlantic is gorgeous. about 4-6 weeks in the spring and 4-6 weeks in the fall. California, by and large (the expensive places to live, anyway) is *mostly* good weather, with 4-6 weeks of bad weather sprinkled in.

OK... so that's climate. What about transportation hubs: Check.. got them in CA. What about access to universities: Check. Even with all the lame-ass things they're doing to the UC and CSU budgets in the legislature, it's still a pretty good place to go to school, and for all the whining, public schools in CA are fairly good (particularly in nicer neighborhoods.. those suburban office park locales for instance).

What about food to eat? California produces just about any food you care to name, and unless you've lived there AND somewhere else, you don't truly appreciate how much fresh produce is around. Sure, these days, they air-freight stuff from Chile and other places just about anywhere, but that hasn't always been the case. California has a longer tradition of using it (perhaps Sicily has a similar culture, but the choice is more limited), so it's just more prevalent. At the very top income end, of course, you can get anything (I've seen strawberries from Oxnard, advertised as such, in the Harrods food hall), but the overall "quality of life" thing comes from what everyone eats. They closed the last Wonder Bread factory in California a few years ago because of lack of demand.

What about activities, when you're not heads down coding the latest hit? How many places can you surf,bike, rock climb, and ski, all in the same day? You want music? Theater?. Sure, we don't have "Broadway" or the "West End", but just about everything else.

No, the reason those companies are moving into inner cities is two fold: Cheap office rent (as noted above by another poster)(Short term optimization for revenue.. it will take a while before they lose employees because it's not cheap for them); Finance Envy (That 3.0 GPA loser roommate is making 10M a year as a trader on the 50th floor in a big tall building, so I'm going to put my company on the 100th floor of a bigger taller building and show that dork who's really superior); Access to capital markets. (We just hired a bunch of MBAs to make a BILLION dollars with our IPO, and they think we should be local to the bankers)

Cities, suburbs, or country? (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year and a half ago | (#41204993)

Really the only important thing is who your neighbors are. Ideally they'll be as libertarian as yourself. Doesn't really matter whether they are social or conservative as both understand that people need to be able to live their private lives without undue government interance. You know the type I mean, the ones who don't give a shit if you smoke pot or have five spouses. The people who want to control what you do on your own time are authoritarians. A libertarian's only concern is that you both look after each other's homestead when you can't be looking after it for yourself.

technology is overrated (0)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205001)

Pinterest, Zynga, Yelp, Square, Twitter, and Salesforce.com are some of the more notable tech companies

Pinterest, Zynga - please, Sir, can I have a share of the social media pie?.
Yelp - a phone book - bravo, new world.
Square - because it's not already too easy to get people spending money.
Twitter - RSS for the ADHD-sufferer.
Salesforce - because your clients' data's not worth shit.

more than 500 new start-up companies like Kickstarter and Tumblr

Kickstarter - taking out the middleman (hello, I'm your new middleman)
Tumblr - absolutely no point whatsoever.

gigantic Google satellite in the old Port Authority Building

What represented a country which actually made things now houses the world's largest ad broker.

Anyone who still takes capitalism seriously is an idiot.

Re:technology is overrated (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205181)

Pinterest, Zynga, Yelp, Square, Twitter, and Salesforce.com are some of the more notable tech companies

Pinterest, Zynga - please, Sir, can I have a share of the social media pie?.
Yelp - a phone book - bravo, new world.
Square - because it's not already too easy to get people spending money.
Twitter - RSS for the ADHD-sufferer.
Salesforce - because your clients' data's not worth shit.

I'd take your detailed and accurate analysis and rather than damning capitalism simply claim they're not tech companies.

My father's first IT job was in computerizing a major class B railroad. Of course they'd had "unit record machines" and such since they were first invented but right up to today they're still adding more and more IT "stuff" to run the business. Only an idiot would call the railroad a "tech company" just because they use a lot of computers in every area of the business.

When I was a teen he worked at a huge heavy industrial fabricator basically doing the same thing, computerizing operations. Databases of whats in stock, early CAD, early data warehousing operations, etc. Again only an idiot would call an 50 acre industrial fabrication factory complex, which happens to have a lot of computers, a "tech company"

In the 10's now that every business is heavily computerized, it seems stylish to call a boring business in a boring field a "tech company" in order to make it look less boring, and/or if there is no viable long term business plan, just call it a "tech company" and it'll be OK.

Re:technology is overrated (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205405)

How is making games not making something? If it was Milton Bradly pumping out Monopoly boards it would be better somehow than Zynga?

Yelp is indeed an improvement on the Yellow Pages, which themselves were valuable. Is your issue that it's not spit out on dead trees?

Square is at least somewhat better for small business than trying to get a merchant account. I've done that before and it is a PITA. Get just a few chargebacks and they are content to hold your money for 6 months. Sue them and they drop your account. Fun. I don't know if Square is any better (never used them), but it sure seems simpler to set up than a traditional merchant account.

I'm not a huge Twitter fan, but can you point me to an RSS provider that lets me post an RSS from an SMS?

I have no idea what your fear with Salesforce is. Salesmen used to leave their Rolodex sitting on their office desk. They'd carry their client info in briefcases and leave it in cars. These aren't exactly secure. I'm not aware that people's customer data was compromised by Salesforce, but naturally it could happen.

Kickstarter is raw capitalism. Someone making money by raising money. Providing capital.

Tumblr I have no experience with, but that's because I'm too old. Kids are remarkably devoted to it, so I'm not sure what your gripe is with it.

Capitalism sucks, but I'd love to hear the system you think does better.

Re:technology is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205697)

The "high tech" moniker seems outdated to describe what the new generation of startups does. Social networking companies are really in the "tech media" business, and require at least as much marketing/communications savvy as facility with math/science/computers. Not saying there isn't plenty of advanced computer science (e.g. machine intelligence) going on, but for the most part that enhances rather than drives what the companies are offering.

Urban crime, panhandlers, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205015)

I used to work in a downtown area, but no more. I don't miss having my car broken into.

Panhandlers and bums are a mixed bag. I sort of miss it for nostalgic reasons, but didn't like it when I was down there with them.

Our city is short on musicians, street mimes and preachers, so it wasn't the full urban experience. YMMV.

Krugman y2k essay on the topic (3, Informative)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205031)

Krugman wrote a similar prediction back in the y2k special issue of the NYT:

Here again, there were straws in the wind. At the beginning of the 1990s, there was much speculation about which region would become the center of the burgeoning multimedia industry. Would it be Silicon Valley? Los Angeles? By 1996 the answer was clear; the winner was ... Manhattan, whose urban density favored the kind of close, face-to-face interaction that turned out to be essential.

http://mit.edu/krugman/www/BACKWRD2.html [mit.edu]

Different strokes for different folks (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205053)

Just skimming the comments here I can see that there are all kinds of opinion on this. Some folks are city people, some are not. Personally, I have never lived or worked in a city. I live and work in the Boston suburbs. The suburbs here are not exactly as 'sprawling' as those around larger cities in warmer climates. Office parks with high tech jobs follow all the ring roads around Boston. You can easily find a place to live near them, so that any supposed sprawl doesn't have to affect your daily life at all.

Sprawl? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205069)

Define "Sprawl."

Is it perhaps the commute or the schools or the restaurants or the parks or the entertainment or the museums or the cost of housing or the type of housing or the transportation or the opportunities or the je ne sais qua that determines where one wants to work?

Re:Sprawl? (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205437)

"Sprawl" to me means largely unplanned ad-hoc development. No through-streets, so all the developments dump onto congested main roads. Poor conditions for pedestrians, and terrible public transit, so you have to drive everywhere. Little or no public space, and when it does exist it is just as ad-hoc as the other development.

Older suburbs are a bit less sprawly, if only because they were originally developed by railroad companies and so have sidewalks, small downtowns, and often still have an operating commuter rail line.

Re:Sprawl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205731)

I'm sorry, did you mean, "Je ne sais quoi?"

And not a single (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205119)

high tech company was named that day...

My Soul Is Crushed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205299)

My soul is crushed after being subjected to this article.

I hate people that want to impose their preferred development style on everyone else. If you don't like the suburbs, live in the city. If you don't like the city, live in the burbs or country. Why does it have to be only one development model? Variety and choice is good.

I'll bet that this trend, created by small startups, will quickly reverse. The driving factor for Silicon Valley's sprawl was the need for inexpensive space. Space for lots of people and lots of warehouses and lots of parking. Once the city startups need the space and see the cost, they'll move into the soul crushing zone again.

founders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205329)

The companies listed are located where their founders live. They personally don't want to commute or live too far away from their friends. I don't think the founders care so much about the workers who generally aren't paid enough to purchase homes where the company is located. Lots of companies are founded by people that live in Palo Alto and they don't end up commuting to SF.

Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205521)

One of the biggest issues with Silicon Valley is that it is all tech nerds. If you work in a big city you can run into the opposite sex from time to time.

Frank talk about Cities/Suburbs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205535)

Places like Pinterest, Yelp, Twitter, might as well be call "Hipster" because moving to the cities is as noted above, a way to get cheap and short-term young workers. It is not a sustainable strategy.

Cities have higher rents than suburbs (duh, land is more expensive there, and decent districts are in short supply). By contrast there is far greater square footage of safe places to work in suburbs.

Cities draw young unmarried workers seeking the opposite sex. Suburbs draw married/cohabitating couples seeking decent places for their children. As the workforce ages it demands suburbs. Particularly for women who find cities threatening after they've found a mate.

Cities are filled with Black, and Hispanic populations who are MUCH MUCH MUCH higher in criminality than White middle class suburb populations. And not all cities are the same. Portland, Seattle, and other Whitopia Cities are far safer (this includes San Francisco) than 90% Black Detroit, or Cleveland, or Birmingham Alabama, or much of metro Atlanta. Inner-ring suburbs that are mostly Black, filled with over 90% illegitimate kids, no adult male presence in their lives, gangs ruling everything, massive dysfunction, can be far more violent (look at murder rates) than places like San Francisco, which has a low murder rate (the result of Blacks in particular being ethnically cleansed out of the place by rising property prices). Oakland across the bay is the mirror image of San Francisco -- poor, Black, Hyper-violent.

And a good deal of the Silicon Valley is being over-run by the Mexodus, transforming a great deal of it into Tijuana Norte. With all the gang and drug violence. That makes retaining skilled workers difficult. No one wants to risk getting mugged or shot just walking to their car. Mexicans leaving places like Michoacan or Chiapas retain the characteristics: gang violence, corruption, drug trafficking, of their homeland (where recently two bloggers were butchered and hung upside down as corpses from a bridge).

A lot of what is driving this move to cities, and lets be honest, no one is moving to Oakland, is a desire to avoid the Mexicanization of much of the inner-ring suburbs which has transformed them into a variation of Tijuana. No one wants to work in Tijuana. An expensive, mostly White, and thus safer city like Portland beats a place like East Palo Alto. But for a company to thrive long term it must have long-term employees who can stay and keep their expertise, and that means a safe suburb with a reasonable commute. No one can afford to live in San Francisco who has not inherited a trust fund, places like Portland or Seattle are little better. And Chicago is sliding into Detroit-like decay before our eyes. Two people were shot just blocks from Obama's mansion in less than two weeks.

Re:Frank talk about Cities/Suburbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205869)

You are absolutely correct, and therefore will likely be moded down to the Seventh Circle of Hell. Good job you posted AC.

Re:Frank talk about Cities/Suburbs (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41206157)

no one is moving to Oakland

The hip stuff in the SF Bay Area is in Oakland now. NIMBY, Art Murmur, warehouse parties, etc. Space in SF is too expensive. Big art projects are moving up to the Richmond shipyard area. SOMA in SF hasn't had an art scene since the 1990s, before the dot-com boom moved in and took over.

(It's working out well for some friends of mine. One bought a loft in a bad neighborhood across from the Maritime Hall in SOMA before the dot-com boom. The tallest building in SF is now across the street from her. She's going to be able to retire from the value of that loft.)

all about money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205545)

In general, younger people live in cities. Older, married with kids people live in the suburbs. The younger folks are simply less expensive. Companies move to the city to get younger workers and get rid of older workers without having a layoff.

I wish they'd cut it out (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205551)

I work at the Port of New York Authority building, and I'd much rather my job were in some soul-less office park in the suburbs. The choices for housing in the NYC area are to rent in a shoebox in Manhattan for insanely high prices, rent a slightly larger place in Hoboken, Jersey City, Queens or Brooklyn for also insanely high prices (and have a relatively long subway commute), or to buy in the suburbs (also insanely costly) and have a ridiculously long commute (1hr+, whether Long Island or New Jersey). I'm not a city person, I need some space. My wife is an artist, she needs some space to work. I'm not so interested in "nightlife" (#1, I'm married, so the payoff isn't there. #2, I'm a geek, so it never was)

I think there's two main reasons the tech companies are mostly going to cities. One is an ideological attraction to cities and antipathy to suburbs on the part of management. The other is an attraction to cities (particularly including New York and San Francisco) on the part of new grads; when you're competing for Ivy League CS grads, an office in Putnam County, NY or Eureka, IN just isn't going to cut it.

Re:I wish they'd cut it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205763)

I think there's two main reasons the tech companies are mostly going to cities. One is an ideological attraction to cities and antipathy to suburbs on the part of management. The other is an attraction to cities (particularly including New York and San Francisco) on the part of new grads; when you're competing for Ivy League CS grads, an office in Putnam County, NY or Eureka, IN just isn't going to cut it.

In Boston there's been a recent surge in tech companies starting up or relocating to a newly developed stretch of the downtown waterfront. It's certainly not cheaper than the suburbs per square foot and parking is a hassle, so I can think of the following reasons why companies do it:

- attractive for recent grads from MIT (especially), Harvard, Northeastern, and other colleges who may still live in town

- *not* attractive for older workers who tend to have settled down in the suburbs

- fine restaurants, water views, historical buildings, etc. might produce a creative edge, or at least be attractive to people who consider themselves "creative types"

- the cache of being in the district

Note in particular the second point - although it is quite possible for workers with homes in the suburbs to commute to the waterfront, it's a pain and would probably result in a commute of an hour or more each way. So there's a bit of an age bias without having to staff up HR and deal with the threat of lawsuits.

Re:I wish they'd cut it out (1)

ornil (33732) | about a year and a half ago | (#41205787)

I live in the Silicon Valley, and I had a choice of moving to NYC, and chose not to. Basically for the same reason - not a great place to raise a family. In the valley, your huge companies aren't all on top of each other and their employees aren't always competing over the same one-mile-radius from the center. You have Google in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino, Yahoo in Santa Clara, Facebook in Menlo Park, etc. That makes commutes saner and housing cheaper. And each of these cities has its own little "cultural" thing, and you can go to one of the larger cities for bigger events and places.

Re:I wish they'd cut it out (1)

Supercooldude (1018122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41206081)

The problem is that even the suburbs around any large city with lots of tech jobs are still insanely expensive. A detached house in the burbs in the greater Toronto area is still 700k, and try buying one on a property big enough so that you can't hear your neighbor fart in his living room from your living room, it'll cost you well over a million. What I would like to see is companies relocate to other smaller cities where the cost of living is reasonable. Or at least become more tolerant of telecommuting.

The best candidate city ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205575)

... try Vancouver, B.C.
Liberal? Check.
Some big universities? Check. (Are they good enough? You can debate that, but they're hardly unknown)
No urban sprawl and thriving city center? Check. The best in North America
An added bonus, it's much easier to get workers to set up shop here from other parts of the world than USA. It's in the same time zone as Silicon Valley and intermediate between Europe & Asia. (That is critical when you need to hold meetings)
VC Money? Hmm....that might be the only catch

Yes, I worked in Silicon Valley before and yes, it is sunny and it is a bit of a soul crushing urban sprawl.

A few things for SF... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205715)

It's because it's where the young talent largely is. The change is that companies are now actually locating in SF, partly because the city is trying to actively attract and keep businesses, partly because the valley is becoming a lot more expensive. A decade ago as soon as a startup hit a certain size and needed larger space it left the city - now it can actually afford to stay. You still see shuttle busses for the larger valley companies picking up folks in the city to ferry south. The Google Bus is always packed with folks to make to the 40 mile trip down to Mountain View...

And It isn't so much that the valley is soul-sucking suburban sprawl, though there are many places like that - strip malls and Chili's and Walmarts - it's that it's just not a great place to be a young renter. The downtowns of the some of the communities in the heart of the valley - Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, etc. - are quite nice, with art house theaters, swanky shops and restaurants. But they're geared more towards rich folks and single family homes than young folks, and not only is trying to find a place to rent around there hard it's going to as or more expensive than living in SF...

Traditionally, many of the tech startups came out of the nexus of Stanford and all the VC groups along Sand Hill Road right across from the campus and as such settled around the area. But now Palo Alto has some of the most expensive office space in the world because of that demand and startups are looking elsewhere, particularly ones founded by transplants who have no connection to the area. They'd much rather live in SF, and there's still chunks of SF yet to be gentrified where companies can find good deals (i.e. Twitter's new campus).

cities are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41205977)

Until you get a life. Wives want kids. Get kids, need more space to accommodate them and a car. Kids get few years old, need decent school to send them to.

City hobbies: stepping over drunks, hosing piss out of doorways, replacing broken car windows and the stuff that was stolen, hunting for parking, carrying tear gas.

Tech businesses moving to cities is a TV sitcom induced fad that will Pass as quickly as it arrived.

Yeah and I'll bet all you City-Gushers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41206063)

talk a good game about "diversity" and "inclusion" during those times you're not hating on your suburban neighbors.

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