Recently there have been a ton of articles discussing tech CEOs, workers and companies leaving San Francisco as a result of COVID. Publications ranging from real estate sites to tech news to legacy newspapers have discussed not just that some of the tech industry is leaving, but also what that means for The City and the Bay Area as a whole.
Over the weekend CNBC published a piece by David Ingram titled “‘Good riddance’: Tech’s flight from San Francisco is a relief to some advocates,” which detailed how some are rejoicing tech leaving because of the working class displacement and cultural destruction the industry brought to The City. And wooo-boy Tech Bro Twitter is cranky about it; their reaction to the whole thing reeks of the entitlement and bullshit savior complex that is so indicative of tech’s mentality.
One tweet that particularly got under my skin is by a man named Bryan Beal who says that San Franciscans cheering tech’s departure would be akin to Detroiters celebrating the faltering of the auto industry in the 1960s. To further illustrate his point, he follows with a sarcastic tweet that says:
“‘Doggone techies coming in here with all their ‘jobs’ and ‘tax revenue’ and ‘record low unemployment’ and ‘charity’ and ‘providing the funding for the highest paying government jobs in the country!’ Git out!’”
Now I’m honestly not saying Beal is a bad person; I don’t know the dude and these are the only two of his tweets I’ve ever read. But what I am saying is that the short-sightedness, hubris and audacity of this tweet is exactly why people are cheering for tech to GTFO of town.
Somehow the entire tech industry forgets that there was a city here before they arrived, and we functioned quite well without them. Before this was “Silicon City” it was an advertising and finance town, and it still is. Major financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab are based here, as are landmark advertising agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. San Francisco is also home to two of the largest apparel companies in the world, Gap and Levi’s.
And on top of all this, tourism still dwarfs tech and is the biggest industry in town. According to SFTravel.com, “In 2018, San Francisco welcomed a record-breaking 25.8 million visitors who spent $10 billion in our city.” Granted, tourism is taking a major hit due to the pandemic, but that won’t last forever.
As for the argument about bringing jobs and record low unemployment…bruh, please. Many of the people that were left unemployed from the Great Recession didn’t get these high-paying tech jobs. They were displaced by the tech talent that was imported from all over the world. It’s easy to have low unemployment numbers when those without jobs are forced to leave.
In an era where things get blown out of proportion very quickly on the internet, it’s important for me to state once again that this is not a personal attack on Beal, it’s me taking umbrage with a particularly foolish thing he said. But more importantly it’s an indictment of the entire tech industry’s attitude as a whole.
It’s tempting say that tech executives and investors are leaving San Francisco like rats fleeing a sinking ship, but that’s not quite accurate. It’s more like colonizers leaving a country once they can’t get what they want out of it anymore. I can’t believe I’m using the word audacity again, but really, the audacity of these people talking shit while scurrying away, after spending a decade making obscene amounts of wealth from a tech boom that caused San Francisco’s cultural and working-class communities to languish.
People like Keith Rabois (Yelp, PayPal, LinkedIn), Drew Houston (Dropbox), Henrique Dubugras (Brex) and others are moving out of San Francisco while complaining about quality of life issues, local government, taxes and host of other things that were severely impacted by the decade-long feeding frenzy that made them billionaires.
These CEOs and their companies never had San Francisco’s well-being in mind to begin with. And while we knew this all along, they’re really showing their whole ass as they flee the dystopia they helped create.
So, I say good riddance. Hopefully future cities where these locusts plan on landing look to San Francisco and see our folly. I feel like a jilted ex-boyfriend right now when I say: “If you’re listening future cities, don’t give them tax breaks just to keep them in your town. They’re gonna end up leaving anyway, but not before they destroy part of what makes you special first.”
Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.