November 27, 2020

EXODUS: The ironies and finalities of being on top of the world.

What we now call our “technological age” was supposed to be a full-throated and enduring argument for the future, not unlike previous epochs in history that pushed art, science, philosophy, and religion forward in dizzying ways that run counter to ordinary time. The Enlightenment. The Renaissance. The French Revolution. These movements now sit as categories on our bookshelves with clear beginnings and ends, and more importantly, clear hubs and cities of frenetic building that drove the ethos forward. Many books assume that contemporary critics or philosophers were blissfully ignorant to the unraveling of their revolutions, but we should not assume that contemporaries did not feel the same twilight setting. The figurative orange skies always creep in before dawn.

Which brings us to the supposed death of Silicon Valley, a fate that has long been predicted but with data now finally catching up. San Francisco apartment rents in 2020 have deflated by 20 percent after an up-up-and-away decade that made the city truly unlivable. Home inventory has reached a fifteen-year high in a city blighted by restrictive housing policy that makes construction cranes as miraculous as stumbling upon a burning bush. The growth in online sales-tax collection, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is the lowest of all counties in the state of California. And public tech companies, such as Pinterest, paid upwards of $90 million to break its lease in downtown San Francisco. Some would argue this is a clear end to Bay Area tech dominance, while others would point to the many new unicorns that popped up this year despite the once-in-a-century pandemic. No one’s living here, yet somehow the companies are still growing.

Silicon Valley doesn’t really have cultural critics to weigh in on whether this era is officially over, but we do have venture capitalists. And our Nostradomuses are telling us that change is afoot.

Do we really need this office? The founders all have left.

Their entire partnership is now living in Montana. It’s only a two-hour flight away!

Denver seems like a good option, but Reno has no state income tax.

Earlier: Don’t ‘Californicate’ the Rest of America.

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