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How Silicon Valley's Tech Reign Will End

timothy posted about a year ago | from the reports-of-its-death-seem-premature dept.

Businesses 395

theodp writes "Silicon Valley's stranglehold on West Coast innovation is in danger. The main problem? It's no fun to live in Silicon Valley. Technology is people, explains The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, and more people are choosing to live in cities. And Silicon Valley isn't like a city, it's like a suburb. 'What's happening now,' says author Bruce Katz, 'is workers want to be in Oakland and San Francisco.' So, how might Silicon Valley save itself? 'Silicon Valley is going to have to urbanize,' Katz said. '[There is a] migration out of Silicon Valley to places where people really want to live.'"

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Ob (-1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44142871)

With a whimper, not a bang.

Also, frosTEEEEEE PiSS!

Except, you're dealing with introverts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142875)

And introverts don't necessarily love the bustle of the city.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (4, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#44142881)

>And introverts don't necessarily love the bustle of the city.

Have you been to silicon valley? There's plenty of bustle, just with worse traffic and no good restaurants.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142909)

And SF or Oakland has less traffic and bustle?

BTW, Oakland? Really, Oakland? Most of Oakland doesn't want to live in Oakland.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142931)

I've been to the Bay Area twice, and I'd rather live in San Jose than SF or Oakland. You have to be nutters to live in SF or Oakland.

Actually, I'd rather live up near Sonoma or along the coast highway, but I don't think I could afford either :) Monterey was extremely nice, however.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

Berkyjay (1225604) | about a year ago | (#44143051)

AAAAHAHAHA!! San Jose is a hole and if you lived in the Bay Area long enough you would understand why. BTW, San Jose pretty much is Silicon Valley. Those suburbs are the suburbs of San Jose.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (2)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44143333)

San Jose is a hole and if you lived in the Bay Area long enough you would understand why. BTW, San Jose pretty much is Silicon Valley. Those suburbs are the suburbs of San Jose.

I agree and disagree. I've lived in San Jose for three years and moved to Morgan Hill last month. San Jose doesn't have a real downtown (the thing that comes closest is Santana Row), nor anything else that the big cities have (such as decent public transport).

But while SJ claims to be the "capitol" of silicon valley, it is not. Many of the big names are outside of SJ: Apple, Facebook, Twitter etc. Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Mountain View are full of tech companies, more than SJ. And where SJ does have the tech, it is primarily concentrated in the triangle 101/880/237. This area may be part of SJ as far as geography is concerned, it doesn't even come close to the feel of being in a city.

The one thing that does suck tremendously is the traffic congestion on 101, 280, 880, 238, 85 and 87. Yeah, that's like living in LA.

Oh, and don't get started on Oakland. When you have documentaries named "Gangland Oakland", you know to stay the hell away with your 100k+ tech salary.

Some of us prefer having a house and a yard (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143191)

I love living in San Jose. On the rare occation I want to do something in a big city, I can drive or take a 1 hour train ride to san franciso. I'm not sure why anyone would want to live in Oakland...

I'm not sure why another posted was complaining about restaurants in SJ, or the South Bay in general. There are both great little hole in the wall places, and some good proper restaunts too. I definitely can find better Pho in east San Jose than I can find anywhere in SF (I've looked). South Bay restaurants have the additional advantage that none (to my experience) are pretenious, and unfortunately I wish I could say the same about my experiences with SF restaurants.

I think living in "the City" is for younger people. The rent is only a bit more than the south bay, and the commute is do able. Plus there are plenty of good jobs in SF, and more being added all the time. (although not in my industry, all the silicon is still in Silicon Valley, even if the software and web media is moving up the pennisula)

Re:Some of us prefer having a house and a yard (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44143367)

I'm not sure why another posted was complaining about restaurants in SJ, or the South Bay in general.

My experience as a frequent visitor is that while there are definitely good places, there are also a surprising number of mediocre to poor ones. If you live there, or ask a local with decent tastes, you'll do well. If you walk into a random place because you have no other information, your odds of hitting something decent are much less than other areas I visit. I have no idea why.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | about a year ago | (#44143233)

I was out there a few times. I loved where BeOS had their headquarters. There was a little complex of houses just across the street so that you could walk down a tree lined street and cross one street to the office. Of course those homes, though only 2 bedroom, probably cost a million or so back in the 90s. Guess you can't have everything.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142941)

no good restaurants

I respectfully disagree, there are many good restaurants. They don't usually look very nice, but the food is good.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143037)

Yeah, the food is good except when they put cilantro on everything.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#44143067)

Yeah, the food is good except when they put cilantro on everything.

C'mon, the food in Alviso isn't that bad. Now the Mexican restaurants that try to be hip rather than serving Mexican food made by Mexicans in a restaurant owned by Mexicans, yeah that stuff sucks.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44143389)

they put cilantro on everything

I guess it sucks if you don't like it. It is everywhere. Personally I love it, although a lot of people think it tastes like soap. They should have a cilantro free side of the menu or something. Maybe a new restaurant, "Cilantro Optional".

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44143181)

Have you been to silicon valley? There's plenty of bustle, just with worse traffic and no good restaurants.

Sure, but the traffic has always been bad, and there has never been good restaurants. If this is what it takes to "kill" Silicon Valley, then Silicon Valley would have never existed in the first place. People have been regularly predicting the death of SV since the 1970s.

I live in SV (San Jose, to be exact). The weather is great. My kids go to public schools that are in America's top 1%. The restaurants aren't as good as in SF, but they aren't that bad. Workwise, there is plenty of talent, and it is easy to find people with almost any skill I need. If I get sick of my job, I can walk across the street and find another. Very few other locations has all these benefits.

Re:Except, you're dealing with introverts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143287)

That pretty much sums up all of the us of a

You Don't Know What An Introvert Is, Obviously (5, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44143349)

Cities are a better way to be alone than the suburbs, if you like that. In fact you can be more anonymous in a city than in a suburb. And there are more things to do by yourself than in a suburb.

And one more very, very important thing: what most people think of an introvert is actually a myth [] . Being an introvert doesn't always mean wanting to be alone. In fact, most introverts like people too (really!). In general what the reality is, is that for most introverts, being an introvert means that when you need to power back up, de-stress and get centred, you do it by getting some 'me time'... being alone and relaxing, getting time to process/meditate on things you have experienced lately. And yes, you can be alone in a crowd. Extroverts, by the way, relax by interacting with people. People who just don't 'get' other people or don't want to be around them are actually classified as misanthropes... or sometimes having Aspergers syndrome. It doesn't mean introvert. I am a strong introvert. I hate the suburbs and love the city.

Workers want to be in San Francisco (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142877)

Hahahaha what a load of crap. No one wants to live in San Francisco unless they're independently wealthy.

Re:Workers want to be in San Francisco (-1, Troll)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year ago | (#44142917)

Let me fix that for you. No one wants to live in SF if they are straight. The gays do.

Re:Workers want to be in San Francisco (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44142943)

DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) is what it takes to live in SF financially for most people. There are only two main groups that comprise of DINKs. The young, and the gay. Not a criticism. Just stating an economic fact. For everyone else, you have to be upper-middle class or higher.

Re:Workers want to be in San Francisco (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143157)

That pretty much applies to all larger international cities these days. They have become no-go zones for young, professional families with children. I turned down a job offer for an engineering management position in Munich and took a lower-paying job in a smaller city where home ownership is much more affordable. Having four children was probably the biggest factor in my decision, as it's next to impossible to rent an apartment in Germany if you have children, especially four.

Re:Workers want to be in San Francisco (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143003)

That's easy to test for; if they get an erection near a cat litter box or when they hear a fart, they're gay.

Not all the gays are in SF (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143199)

Most of the lesbians are living in the South Bay and East Bay. It's painful for them down here though, because the commute to the Giants or A's stadiums is so long.

Only a fucking moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142907)

Wants to live in an urban shit hole? I got tired of wading through shell casings, used needles, condoms, homeless cretins, assholes and the like and moved out of the hellhole Indianapolis had become. The place still has one of the highest murder, home invasion, mugging, vandalism rates in the country. When I was in L.A. it looked worn, old with a lot of trash and that was Rodeo Drive. If you're moving into an urban area in this economy you're a fool.

Re:Only a fucking moron (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44143013)

Cheaper, better, faster. You can only pick two.

You can only live in the core urban city if you're wealthy. Being urban education is an abject joke, you live their with children knowing full well you'll be spending over 10 grand a year on private education for them.

The outer ring around the urban center is mainly lower-middle class to poor. These are the children that go to the urban public schools.

The second outer ring is primarily the sub-burbs. Typically 40 to 80 miles out from the core. The people that live here are solid middle class. Their children go to public schools that rate anywhere from fair to very good.

So in summary starting from the center urban city on out ranks as the following group of people. Wealthy - Poor - Middle class. In that order.

I'll pick all three (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143227)

1. Living in SJ is cheaper than living in SF
2. The quality of life in SJ is better than SF. More parks spread around the area. Quieter and more peaceful living. Fewer weird aggressive homeless people in the south bay compared to SF.
3. The commute to most tech companies is shorter if you live in SJ (although Santa Clara or Sunnyvale is more ideal for commute)

* and I can choose all three because it's relative and not absolute. just wanted to point out the fallacy in your glib remark.

Re: Only a fucking moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143015)

You seem to be confusing Los Angeles and San Francisco. I live in SF and find myself surrounded by beautiful Victorian homes & tasty restaurants. I suppose there's some litter, too, but that's a small price to pay. (Unlike my rent.)

SF is a toilet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143261)

It was really fun when I couldn't get out of the Mission to catch the last train out because of a murder. Or when some homeless man broke a bottle on my shoe when I refused to lend him my cellphone. (he wasn't polite about asking, so I didn't give him a polite response). Or when a guy shining shoes insisted I pay him $20 for a shine that I did not ask for or want, and which amounted to him dropping some polish on my shoes then wiping it off quickly. I ended up giving him the money because the way he was shouting was pretty embarrassing and I didn't how else to avoid the conflict.
There is a colossal amount of litter in San Francisco, it's a rather disgusting place. And the amount of urine I have to smell just walking down some of the streets is shocking.
I realize many people love their little city by the bay. But to some of us, it's an ugly place. The only redeeming part of SF is perhaps Golden Gate Park.

Re:Only a fucking moron (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44143019)

Inelegantly worded, and I wouldn't go quite that far, but I tend to agree with your dislike of the city life in general.

Full disclosure: I live in the Silicon Valley.

I can't imagine the allure of places like San Francisco. They're dirty, overcrowded, and getting around requires insane amounts of walking because you're never going to find a place to park and you're taking your life in your hands if you actually drive up there. Half the places you want to walk, you're constantly being hit up by people begging for money (despite an ever-increasing homeless services budget—homeless are drawn to SF by the availability of those services, so the more they spend, the more homeless they get; you can't solve homelessness one city at a time—it must be fixed at the national level—but I digress). There are drugged out people lying in the streets. There are drug deals going down on the corner, and prostitutes drumming up business. And for this, people pay more to rent a small apartment than I pay in space rent for an 1800 square foot mobile home. Seriously, what the f***?

I know some people like the "hip" culture of bars and clubs in larger cities, but once those people get a few years older, the desire to go clubbing usually wears off, and they find themselves wanting to live somewhere safe and comfortable. Cities are not that sort of place. The young workers who still haven't figured that out can live in their San Francisco. That's the thing about the Silicon Valley: It's an easy commute from there. Companies that want to attract those young workers would do well to follow the lead of companies like Apple and Google, who provide buses down from the city, where workers can get work done while they commute.

As for the companies that decide to move to San Francisco, it's only a matter of time before they figure out that they need a balance between the young workers and their older, wiser elders, most of whom don't want to move to a city, will be much less willing to commute than their younger counterparts, and will be much less able to commute on commute buses because they are spread over a larger geographical area. It's easy to set up commute buses from a highly populated area to your campus in the suburbs. It's much harder to set up commute buses from the suburbs to a company in the city.

In short, the entire notion of this article is fundamentally founded in a false dichotomy and an incorrect assumption that everyone likes cities. Oh, and one final point: Anyone who says that "Workers want to be in Oakland" is probably holding on to real estate in that city that they can't sell because of Oakland having one of the highest violent crime rates of any city in this country. As far as I can tell, nobody wants to be in Oakland.... :-)

and expensive (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142921)

Yes, it is incredibly boring, AND it is ridiculously expensive. It's not just a problem with "Silicon Valley" - tech money is slowly destroying the entire Bay Area, by destroying the ability of non-tech millionaires to live normal lives. It's starting in Berkeley. :-(

Re:and expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142949)

It's starting in Berkeley

Soon, it will be $5-BSD.

Re:and expensive (2)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year ago | (#44142957)

It looked like hell in 1991 when I visited from the UK. The highways must be just one big parking lot by now.

Re:and expensive (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44143155)

if I need to be at work at 9am, its hell.

otoh, if I can be at work at 10.30, then its not nearly as bad as you say.

if you are allowed flex hours, its quite liveable. if you work for a company that still thinks like they did 50 years ago, well, you better live close to work..

Re: and expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143029)

No, NIMBYs and ridiculous land-use laws are driving up prices. If we added as many new apts as the market demands using the amazing technological innovation that is the elevator, we wouldn't see the prices we do.

Re: and expensive (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year ago | (#44143317)

On the other hand, the whole are would feel much more closed in, much less spacious, and generally more urban. The reason people pay less for apartments in high rises (or even relatively small buildings) is because it's a lot less pleasant to live in them than it is to live in suburban sprawl.

These things go in cycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142923)

Yeah, I know it's a cliche, but cliches are often true.

Yeah, I know that's a cliche too but... I ran out of them.

Really? (2)

Andy Clemenko (2967927) | about a year ago | (#44142929)

The cost of living is insane out there. There are great engineers all over the world.

Now you're getting somewhere (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143081)

The cost of living is insane out there. There are great engineers all over the world.

What is going to kill Silicon Valley is their pathological need to have the "best and brightest", the "stars", and the "super geniuses" - all to make yet another social networking website or app or yet another push advertising app.

When I see a tech entrepreneur whine and complain how she can't get enough qualified people - like JavaScript engineers - and claims that there are only 25 people in the World who can what she needs to be done in JavaScript, they're headed for a downfall.

Silicon Valley lost its creativity and innovation. Many of the creative folks have gone back home - like back to India and left the Steve Jobs wannabees.

Re:Now you're getting somewhere (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44143371)

You're right, the wannbees will kill it. And the management leechs that live off of them.

Re:Now you're getting somewhere (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#44143457)

I'm in the NYC area, and I see a lot of the same thing: a bunch of hoopla about the "Silicon Alley", a bunch of events for people to "network" at, and a lot of talk about VC funding for "great ideas", which are all just Yet Another Social Networking website or app or the like.

Re:Now you're getting somewhere (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143521)

Many of the creative folks have gone back home - like back to India and left the Steve Jobs wannabees.

Hell no. The guys from India turn out shit code.

Oakland????!!?? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142935)

I work at a major silicon valley company, and haven't met a single person who wants to live in Oakland. No matter how "hip" it is, the violent crime rate is 4x that of San Jose (the largest suburban city in Silicon Valley).

Source :

Plenty of techies do live in SF and commute to Silicon Valley companies every day. But SF isn't a city you want to raise kids in - the only people I know with children in SF are either too poor to move, or so incredibly rich that they can send their kids to private schools.

Re:Oakland????!!?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142945)

And Tower of Power doesn't strike me as a geek band.

Re:Oakland????!!?? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44143063)

The parts of Oakland near the BART stations have undergone considerable gentrification over the past 10 years, and yeah, a lot of it is due to techies moving there. The area around West Oakland BART is nothing like it used to be, although some of that is also due to the area being less cut off since the demolition of the Cypress Street Viaduct. Uptown Oakland (near 19th st BART) is also pretty gentrified, again largely with tech workers.

Re:Oakland????!!?? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44143075)

I guess it's an age thing. Kids would prefer to live on a farm. Adolescents and young people like the big cities. When they grow older and have children they move out to the suburbs.

Re:Oakland????!!?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143145)

Google sends at least one bus to Oakland.

Re: Oakland????!!?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143221)

and it never came back...

Why do they want to live in cities? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44142939)

I have to think there is something more going on then lack of entertainment. Furthermore, married couples tend to prefer suburban settings.

Consider that the solution here is getting your engineers dates. If they marry then demographically they'll be inclined to stay and even avoid the city.

Re:Why do they want to live in cities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142983)

I have to think there is something more going on then lack of entertainment. Furthermore, married couples tend to prefer suburban settings.

Consider that the solution here is getting your engineers dates. If they marry then demographically they'll be inclined to stay and even avoid the city.

Except that getting married and having a family tends to keep them from spending every waking hour at work...

Re:Why do they want to live in cities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143047)

I have to think there is something more going on then lack of entertainment.

There's a comparative lack of most things that aren't work-related. It's only comparatively "bad". But you know, the wealthier people tend to want the best. And Sillicon Valley has mostly people who're wealthy, plus their servants (sorry, I saw how little the other people get paid, servants is correct enough to me).

Urbanizing and diversifying would of course require infrastructure and cheap but decent housing for the not so wealthy. Nobody is going to pay for that, however.

Furthermore, married couples tend to prefer suburban settings.

Quiet streets and more affordable prices for larger housing what drives people to suburban settings, not the suburban settings themselves. It *could* be fixed with zone planning measures, but there's little will to do so, I think.

Only applies to kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142951)

The 20-something kids that get used and abused by the start-ups want to live in SF. Oakland is a good place to get robbed or shot these days. Until they deal with some of their problems, Oakland will not be a big draw for wealthy tech folks.

The truth is that while the kids and their wacky start up ideas get a lot of press, once you get married and have a kid, Oakland and SF are not great places to live unless you have a LOT of money. I'm not talking "Hey I'm 29 years old and am worth a million bucks". I'm talking, my house cost $5+ million dollars, and my annual expenses are $500,000.

For the people between 30 and 60, who make up most of the workers in the tech industry, a 'suburb like' environment suits them fairly well.

Same precdiction every year (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44142955)

Past favorites include cost of living, housing prices, traffic, taxes, tech bust, tech boom, blah blah blah. Silicon Valley isn't going anywhere and neither are the vast majority of startups.

3rd Gen Valley Native here (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142963)

Cost of living.
I'm telling you right now, after living outside the Bay Area for a few years.
There is NOTHING Silicon Valley has to offer except nostalgia of its past.
Today, we have zero land to develop on.

The city I am from, Mountain View, is in constant process to build these god awful HOA town homes, stacked one on top of the other. you might think its a wonderful place to be, and surely the weather has everything going for it.

But that's it.
The glory days are gone.
What is coming next is the city sprawl, you can count on it.

My family came out here to grow orchards back in the early 1920's, mostly Apricots and Almonds.
These are non existent today.

You can find the same quality of living with just as much cultural activity in many other places across the US.
And most importantly, the cost of living is far cheaper virtually everywhere else.

This place has become more of a status symbol for those who live and work out here than anything else.
There is also a growing divide amongst the wealthy and the living paycheck to paycheck classes in the Bay Area as well.
People are really wasting their money and time out here and they don't even know it.
They're missing the point imho entirely.

I'll be leaving again soon, this time I intend for good.
I'll miss Santa Cruz and The coast line and hills more than anything else.
But I know, there are plenty of those places left unspoiled all across the coast.

just my 2 cents.

Re:3rd Gen Valley Native here (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44143129)

I'm also a bay area resident.

one thing that keeps me here is the forward thinking attitude. acceptance of different lifestyles (for the most part) and the fact that its NOT required that you participate in a religion. quite a lot of the US insists you belong to the local church and if you don't, you are never accepted by your neighbors. I want no part of that kind of lifestyle and that elimnates about 80% of the US, for me.

the valley is stil the center for high tech, but with it being more and more h1b-based, locals are being pushed out of jobs - and that's definitely a down-side to living here. its hard to compete when you start to get older.

housing is pretty bad here. yes, too much HOAs and not enough space between homes, forcing people to live on top of each other.

but I keep coming back to the intellectualism of the area. if you are a thinker, you'll fit in well here. no one makes fun of you if you are smart, unlike much of the rest of the country.

food selection is as good as it gets here, too; with all the different restaurants and styles of food, its a major reason for me to stay here.

and finally, for hardware-oriented folks like myself, there are a lot of surplus electronics places that certainly help you keep your parts bin well stocked. I can drive down the street and buy parts that, in other areas of the country, you would never be able to find.

oh, and the weather. the weather! for a snow-hater like myself, it would be hard to leave the bay area and move back to the snow and cold.

too many positives to push folks like me out. some negatives, but more pros than cons, overall.

Re:3rd Gen Valley Native here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143189)

As a Bay Area veteran, I can confidently confirm to you that there are other places in America where you will not be mocked for being smart. In fact, even in bumfuck Kansas, intelligence is still attractive.

Honestly, I don't think SF/SJ is top of the heap in the intellectual department. The Bay is an engineer work mill, a secondary financial center, a tech startup hub, and a vacation destination.

I've lived in a number of different US places (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143209)

Attending church has never been what you've described, and that was true even in the great Theocratic state of Utah.

Been outside the west coast much lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143259)

I live in the rural midwest and people really don't care if you go to church or not. At most you'll get offers to attend and those aren't so much witnessing to you (trying to convert you) as they are just, "hey, meet some people".

Re:3rd Gen Valley Native here (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#44143511)

WTF? Where have you lived where your neighbors shunned you for not belonging to the "local church"? I've lived in several places around the country and have never seen that at all (TN, VA, AZ, MS), even though the places I've lived have not exactly been "forward thinking". In any town or city with a population greater than 300, there's multiple churches and people don't all go to the same church. In any normal city, tons of people don't go to church at all, and people just don't ask about it.

Finally, where have you ever lived where you needed to be "accepted by your neighbors"? In all the different places I've lived (probably about 20 different addresses), it was very rare I knew my neighbors well or said much to them besides an occasional "hi". Americans are famous for not interacting with their neighbors.

Re:3rd Gen Valley Native here (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44143133)

I'll miss Santa Cruz and The coast line and hills more than anything else. But I know, there are plenty of those places left unspoiled all across the coast.

Eh, what coast would that be? Here [] is what Mt Everest looks like near the peak these days.

A fairly narrow view point (5, Interesting)

coolioisay (2567387) | about a year ago | (#44142987)

So yes, there is a group of tech workers, frequently referred to as "hipsters" that want to live in the urban areas and do their hipster things. However, if you are a tech work with kids, which is actually the majority, you don't want to live in these crime-ridden, urine-scented, no-parking-available urban areas with bad school systems. The pattern I see is that one these hipsters get married and start popping out kids, they move to what people think of as the suburbs. But, they don't necessarily stop being tech workers. And I don't know why TFA says Mountain View isn't having a construction boom. I can count 2 new office buildings and 3 new housing complexes being constructed in its downtown area.

Re:A fairly narrow view point (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44143073)

All people who enjoy living in cities are hipsters? I guess like, 75% of Europeans are hipsters, because they prefer living in a nice part of London to some godforsaken suburb...

Re:A fairly narrow view point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143179)

It's different in America. People tend to move to the suburbs to raise a family by the time they're in the '30s; some come back to the city after their kids go off to college.

Re:A fairly narrow view point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143297)

75% of Europeans are hipsters

Sounds about right to me and I am European!

Re:A fairly narrow view point (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44143379)

What? 370 odd million people prefer living in London? Save us from little englanders....

Re:A fairly narrow view point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143107)

This matches my experiences as well. I work for one of the largest and most recognizable companies in Silicon Valley and the majority of people I know are moving OUT of San Francisco and closer to work. Some of them are sick of the city, some of them are raising families, etc., but SF has absolutely lost its allure to them.

Try Austin (5, Insightful)

HungryGhostTalks (2967935) | about a year ago | (#44142991)

Austin is super cool and fun and way cheaper than SF or Oakland. Austin sort of has a unique mix of SF - Berkeley - Boston - Washington DC in one.

Re:Try Austin (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44143135)

I've heard good things about austin.

problem is, its still inside texas.

I would not be caught dead in texas. sorry. but texas is too ful of Teh Crazy. and once you wander out of austin, you are now in crazy land.

Re:Try Austin (1)

mishehu (712452) | about a year ago | (#44143269)

I live in Austin and work in LA. Take your pick of poison... "Teh Crazy" as you put it, or "The People's Republic of California", if you will. I find Cali to be no less crazy than TX. It's just a question of how that crazy is expressed, kind of like your genes.

Re:Try Austin (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#44143281)

I disagree, to me SF would be crazy land

Re:Try Austin (2)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44143283)

Don't worry. It evens out. They may not want you there either. ;)

I've lived in a fair number of places including Texas. In all of them, most of the people are fine. They may be different than you in some ways, but that's what diversity is all about.

And, everywhere I've lived has had at least a sprinkling of assholes. It's not a function of the place so much as a function of there being humans in it.

Re:Try Austin (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143335)

Yes, that's absolutely true. Austin is surrounded by crazy people. You might get shot just for looking at someone the wrong way, or just for breathing. There are roving lynch mobs. Not to mention the weekly cattle drives -- regularly people are mowed (or moo'd) down by stampedes.

So please, for the sake of all you hold dear, don't come to Austin. I'll... er, I mean, You'll regret it. Oh, and ignore all those scurrilous rumors about Austin being full; it's completely true, er I mean, totally false.

Re:Try Austin (2)

hwstar (35834) | about a year ago | (#44143395)

I agree. California is much better:

1. No noncompete contracts written on flypaper.
2. Temperature and and humidity are lower in the summer.
3. Sane limitations on invention agreements
4. More people beleve in evolution instead of creationism.
5. California has initiative and referendum. Texas doesn't.
6. Even though Texas has no personal income tax, property taxes are twice as high as California's.

Re:Try Austin (1)

fliptout (9217) | about a year ago | (#44143415)

This kind of post proves that provincial people exist everywhere.

Re:Try Austin (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44143449)

Austin is a part of CA. As is Santa Fe, Boulder, Jackson, Laramie, Aspen, Bozeman, Sun Valley, and Steamboat. All Californicated or soon to be.

Re:Try Austin (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#44143279)

That is actually where I will be moving in the next few months. Any areas you could recommend to move to or stay out of? My job will be near the IBM plant. and Ive been looking at places in brushy creek.

Re:Try Austin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143361)

If you would stay away from Austin, that would be good. Thanks.

How about spreading it out past the Bay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44142997)

There's a whole country out there filled with smart, creative and industrious people that would rather avoid the Bay Area/Seattle/NYC/Boston areas altogether.

Some people like SF (2, Informative)

eviljav (68734) | about a year ago | (#44143009)

Some people like San Francisco.

Others find it to be a crowded dirty place that smells like urine.

Nobody wants to live in Oakland.

I'm seeing exactly the opposite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143017)

I live in Sunnyvale. I work in Santa Clara. I used to live in Manhattan.

I had a blast living in NYC, and I still love going there, but with a family and kids, I don't see myself going back to a big city anytime soon.

Yes, cost of living is the Bay Area is somewhat insane, but so are the salaries, so we don't really notice it. The weather is fantastic. The mountains are all around you, as are the park for hiking and mountain biking etc.

There's construction all over the place (though that may be just anecdotal.)

I don't know anyone who want to move to San Francisco, much less Oakland. (Oakland? Is this a joke?)

This whole article seems to come from a different reality.

Why people don't want to live in Silicon valley? (5, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#44143021)

It's too f-ing expensive.

Almost requires an IPO or your startup to be bought to buy a home in a decent location around here. I guess that's the benefit of telecommuting. You can live way down in Gilroy and VPN into your company located in Palo Alto without having to drive for 2 hours.

"Starter homes" around here which I'd say is a 1500sq ft with almost no land 10ft from your side walls to your neighbors' and your house is 20ft from the back property line), costs $500k and up. Want to live in a district with good schools? Take that same 40 year old house and crank up the price to a cool million. Oh and you'll need to put in about $50-75k worth of upgrades to replace that cracking wood shingle roof, worn out carpets and pipes that have been moving hard water for 40 years. That's ok for the seller because they know someone will move in to put their kids into the top schools around here. Oh don't forget the $15k worth of property taxes each year and potentially $400/month in HOA fees.

Housing prices are now higher than during the bubble, dot-com or housing bubble. It didn't help that all the sellers sat on their homes in the hopes that some Facebook millionaire would want to buy their house.

I live in the silicon valley and can't wait for the day to sell my home and move to another part of the country and pay for a 3k sq ft home for $500k with an acre of land on a lake.

Silicon Valley, like NYC but spread out and requires a car.

I live in San Jose and I am NOT going to commute t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143043)

You can forget about me moving to these shitholes right just about now I am so not interested and it is so not going to happen. Go away, agenda 21 shills.

Just driven by hiring costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143065)

Some of the companies in SF are getting a huge portion of their staff coming in by train via BART and caltrans, or are even running their own shuttles. The same happens in reverse going down further south. Companies like Facebook have shuttles going south.

What matters is total cost of talent, as that's these firms largest expense. No location in the bay area is perfect in that regard. SF was better for a while because there were fewer attractive companies drawing local talent, but that trend ended some time ago. The big firms are building multiple offices and shuttling people around as that allows them to draw from the largest area, and thus get people more cheaply.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143077)

No really, everything changes.. why is it so important that 'silicon valley' remain intact?

SF not that great (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44143083)

San Francisco is not as "fun" as it used to be. Higher rents drove the artists out a decade ago. SF has about 8,000 homeless people, out of a population of only 750,000. Most of the bookstores have closed. The nightclub scene is slowly being crushed by gentrification.

The financial district is struggling to stay relevant. The big SF banks either tanked or merged with banks elsewhere.

People commute all the time (1)

gspec (2710477) | about a year ago | (#44143089)

From SF to Silicon Valley and vice versa. Also from Alameda County where houses are a little bit cheaper (looking for a place with many new developments? Come to Dublin right now). The only real problem of the Bay Area (not only Silicon Valley) is the housing price. If you are in high-tech/computer related industries there so many jobs and opportunities, that is why people are here. You want to be where the jobs are, even when most of your income spent on housing. At least if the housing market keeps up with the inflation rate, you are not losing money.

I (heart) SV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143139)

If you can make it in Silicon Valley, you can make it anywhere!

cue the music....

It already ended (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#44143151)

Ever been to Shenzhen?

Re:It already ended (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44143479)

As long as you don't mind getting lung cancer, lead poising, or oppressed by a brutal Communist regime; China is a GREAT place.

California people... (1, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#44143205)

People in California seem to think that everyone else has this burning desire to live in California.
We don't.

Re:California people... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44143385)

You can't beat coastal CA weather. NoCal is pretty good. SoCal is even better, 55-95 F temp range. 10 months a year it's 65-85 F. You live outside all year. Beaches are 5-25 min away. Mountains are 25-60 min away. I lived in a house with NO air conditioning. Just a ceiling fan and getting out to a movie or the pool in the afternoon during August. Coastal breezes cool it off after 5pm (rather than the heat rising until the sun goes down).

It's a different way to live and if you've never experienced it before it can seem like no big deal. It is though. Not being stuck inside for half the year from heat or cold makes a huge difference.

Re:California people... (2)

router (28432) | about a year ago | (#44143433)

Its really because we can't live anywhere else. I tried, failed. If you're from here, the rest of the country has seasons/bugs/religion/closedmindedness. If you grew up without those things, its really hard to live somewhere they are endemic. Look, if you grew up in the frozen wasteland, the weather _anywhere_ is great. If you're used to thunderstorms, you can handle hurricanes. Humidity is the same everywhere, and if you grew up with it, its no big deal. "Worshiped on Sunday, forgotten all week?" You know the system, you can adapt to the new god(s).

If you were cursed to grow up without this stuff, you are forced to stay in the only place in the country without them. If all the people not so cursed could find it in their hearts to take pity on us, and stay away, we could live out our pitiful existence without the astronomical cost of housing you all bring with you. It would really be helping us out.


Re:California people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143505)

"People in California seem to think that everyone else has this burning desire to live in California. We don't."

Awesome. Please stay out.

Not for me: (3, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44143219)

I'll take my small rural town in the Midwest.

Cities are great for those who like them, but they seem an endless expanse of concrete canyons and people to me. (Yes, I've lived there.)

Like many others, I suspect that it's the younger types that are more up for central city life. When they have a family, more opt for the burbs or even farther out in the rural to quasi rural areas. This isn't very surprising as their needs have changed.

One item that's lacking here is good mass transit. For those who can afford cars, that's a cost or an inconvenience, but for the young or not so well off that can't, it sorta traps them here in a little burg of 1300.

Strangely enough, mass transit used to be here in the early 1900s. There was an interurban electric train system that linked the small towns to the larger ones. (About 20 miles to each of the two in the area.)

"Silicon Valley"? Not quite.. (1)

Brad Goodman (2906427) | about a year ago | (#44143251)

How about more like Bejing or Herzelia. I'm really sorry (and a bit ashamed) to say/admit it - but they Valley was all-it back in the 90's - but we're livin' in different and scary times...

Re:"Silicon Valley"? Not quite.. (0)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44143485)

As long as you don't mind living in an oppressive Communist nation.

Wants to live in silly valley? (2)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44143255)

Try, "can afford to live in silly valley". Six figures is minimum wage there. I interviewed for a job in Pittsburgh. The more I looked at it the more I liked it. I would've made more money and paid about $100k less for a good house in a decent neighborhood. In a city home to CMU, University of Pittsburgh, Biotech companies, and regional energy companies. And brew pubs.

If you want a good standard of living, go east.

Amen, will never live in Cali or other smog areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44143313)

I'm a rather talented software developer who simply won't relocate to that coast due to my love of cars.

Cali only has 91 octane max which simply is piss gas. My 2.0 turbo 4 cylinder with AWD is pushing out over 600 horsepower running on 93 octane here in michigan. If I ran 91 I'd have to retune the car and give up a good 50-70 horsepower and run less boost. I'd get more knock which means my timing curve would have to be adjusted lower as well.

But before that, I'd already be majorly illegal because my huge aftermarket turbocharger was not "CARB" approved. My exhaust would be illegal and that too would have to come off. By the time I get the car within legal specs, I'm back to the 300 horsepower it came with. I can't even push the smaller stock turbo much farther because the car was designed to run on 93 to just make 300hp. With work and tuning I could hit 330 or so on 91 octane.

So tell me again why I would move to Cali only to make a bunch of money I can't really spend the way I want to? Nothing really beats the pleasure of destroying a V10 Viper or supercharged Corvette with my little turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder. The emissions regs are mostly targeted at tuner cars like mine and guys with cammed out V8's get free passes to bypass the checks. I know because when I owned my V8 Mustang Cobra no one cared what I did to it because it was "'Merican". Even though four wheel drive and a turbo small engine is WAY better because it's lighter and can use the power and torque it makes when the 2wd V8 is spinning tires....

Anyways... I'm sticking to Michigan and Cali will lose out on my programming talent.

oh really? (3, Informative)

Goldsmith (561202) | about a year ago | (#44143351)

I'm not sure this writer has been to silicon valley in the last 10 years. There are "walkable, urban" spaces all over the place. The problem is that they're crazy expensive.

The valley is not full of the sleepy suburban areas from 30 years ago. There's a significant amount of high density housing, hip restaurants and bars. A lot of it looks like what you'd expect to see around a large college campus - cheaply built apartments with "interesting" architecture, gelato, coffee, smoke shops and international cuisine. The single family homes actually in the valley are not an option for anyone you might consider a "worker."

The only still-suburban spaces are squeezed between the urbanizing centers in the valley and the two cities: San Francisco and San Jose. Talking about Oakland as an important city to Silicon Valley is... weird.

I know there are several companies in Oakland, but it seems more like a separate, nearby community than part of Silicon Valley. San Jose is larger in population than both San Francisco and Oakland, but is far more spread out. San Francisco still dominates the local political landscape, but San Jose long ago took over the role of counterbalancing city to SF in regional policy and diversity - Oakland is just another set of SF neighborhoods now.

Author didn't get the memo right (1)

digitalFlack (992318) | about a year ago | (#44143357)

Wow, an author from the online Atlantic needed a subject and found an intellectual from the Brookings Institute with an opinion on Silicon Valley. Better warn Apple before they spend a gazillion dollars in SV on a spaceship for their 25,000 employees. And Google, eBay, Oracle, HP,, Microsoft (SV), Lockheed, the incubators, and Stanford need to get the memo... their 250,000 jobs will be in San Francisco and Oakland soon! And San Francisco better start building schools for their children..(BTW, S.F. is the largest school district in the country with a shrinking enrollment... the re-gentrification is raising prices so much that working and middle class are moving out.) These companies and the university create the spin-offs that attract the VC and the talent pool can't (and wouldn't) just up and move to Oakland, or Austin, or Chicago. The author mistakes regular seepage from Silicon Valley for a mass migration. Of course there are other opportunities and locales near S.V. and around the country, but for a long time the S.V. tech star will continue to have critical mass and to suck the majority of the VC funding into its orbit.

Every few years some academic looks at a growth spurt (like Pixar, Leap Frog and IKEA in a small town like Emeryville) and makes social and economic forecasts that can't be implemented in the real world. Then journalists assume that their academic degree validates the theory - and write these silly puff pieces.

How about next time we Spare the Electrons!

Not well put, but you make some good points ... (5, Insightful)

scribble73 (879745) | about a year ago | (#44143517)

The points the author notices are effects; not causes.

In the 1950s, San Jose and its suburbs adopted an urban growth strategy that was essentially no planning strategy at all. They minimized zoning and urban planning, assuming that giving developers the freedom to develop land without much oversight would somehow produce a quality urban environment as a side-effect.

So San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Mountain View and Cupertino spread out because developers opted to build where land was cheap. However, city streets were not extended in a sensible way. To run personal errands on Saturday, we had to start driving five miles (and through a dozen stoplights) just to find a grocery store. Three or four other errands could require fifteen to twenty miles. Add traffic and stoplights, and it could take you five hours or more, to run just three local errands.

In addition, cities here allowed commercial property to mix a little too closely with residential property. This raised crime rates, lowered property values, and made everything ugly. No one planned for parks or shopping centers or other public amenities. When shopping centers were finally built, traffic patterns were ghastly. When planners were forced to route freeways through the area; they were routed where the land was cheap; not where they were really needed -- first they cut neighborhoods in half, and then in quarters. Parks were placed, twenty years late, where more land was cheap, or where well-to-do neighborhoods were still located.

All this turned the valley into a happy little piece of Houston, Texas, only with worse freeways.

The good things about Silicon Valley arose from areas that were planned: Stanford. Large Aerospace companies along Bayshore freeway. Aerospace died, but by then, silicon had taken the place of airplanes. Then silicon died. Today, we run on software and business momentum from the old days, but the momentum is formidable.

... the Valley is no longer egalitarian, the way it was in the 50s and 60s. We have a greater disparity between the rich and the poor than almost any city along the Pacific Coast, and the rich here still love Libertarian chaos... so, real estate prices are too high. Rents are too high. No parks. poor schools. Easily 7000 homeless just in San Jose. Tens of thousands of homes foreclosed over the last seven years. And even with Google Maps; local business are infernally hard to find and ugly when you get there.

As bad as all this is, it won't ultimately kill the valley. I think lack of professional creativity and opportunity will finally kill us. Large companies here never did value what the Harvard Business School calls 'disruptive technology.' They do not hire creative problem solvers. Business startup costs used to be low: Today, they are through the roof, and getting higher. Venture Capital has ruled the roost since 1997 or so, they are getting stronger, and they do not value original ideas.

Major companies here are all slowly dying (like they always have -- remember Fairchild Instruments, DEC and Atari?) -- the difference is; that it is much, much harder to start a new company here than it used to be -- and new companies are where the big companies come from when the old companies finally die.

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