By the end of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and before the first COVID vaccines were available, the news that Silicon Valley stalwarts like Oracle and Hewlett Packard, or younger ones like Palantir and Tesla, had moved their corporate headquarters to other regions sounded like a swan song. Is Silicon Valley past its prime? Is it on the decline?
Don’t be so hasty. I had already pointed out some reasons why this does not necessarily have to be the case, and now 18 months later there are current figures that clearly contradict a decline. On the one hand, the population figures and rents and house prices speak against it, and the amount of venture capital also indicates rather the opposite.
The San Francisco Chronicle broke down the numbers. How many residents did San Francisco have, which residents left during the pandemic, and how many residents does the city have now?
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From April 2020 to July 2021, the city lost nearly 7% of its population, from 873,965 to 815,201. This was the lowest number since 2010, with the population of 25- to 29-year-olds declining by 26%. Younger people in particular left the city, while older people stayed or even increased. This has to do with the housing situation, because younger people have less home ownership than older people, and with rents down but never below $2,800.00, it made sense to move to cheaper places. Also because during the pandemic, many eateries and cultural offerings that make San Francisco attractive had to close.
Why so many white people in particular had left the city may have to do with the increase in home offices. Bay Area whites are more likely than Hispanics and blacks (and about as likely as Asians) to work in jobs that are more likely to be performed from the home office.
Apartment and House Prices
The median price for homes in May 2022 in the San Francisco Bay Area was $1.5 million, up 12.3 percent from May 2021. This may also have to do with fewer homes being offered, which does not indicate that people want to leave the region. At least not those with home ownership.
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For the next 12 months, although the price increases are expected to flatten out, there should still be a price increase. That’s also my experience, by the way. In all the almost 21 years, even during the crises, house prices have never really gone down.
But perhaps the most important indicator of Silicon Valley’s dynamism as a startup mecca is venture capital. While the number of venture capital firms is only 28 percent, they account for 56 percent of the venture capital available (but not necessarily invested) in the U.S. (Dry Powder).
Venture capital fundraising also saw a jump in 2021. This increased in the U.S. from $86.9 billion in 2020 to $128.3 billion in just one year.
And again: much of it is concentrated in Silicon Valley. In the first quarter of 2021, the three largest exits – Roblox, Tuya Smart and Affirm – were all based in Silicon Valley or San Francisco, raising more than $63 billion combined. Of the 25 largest early-stage deals in the first quarter of 2021, 12 were completed in the state. Of the 10 largest deals, half were based in California.
Is Silicon Valley on the decline? Not really, and if it is, it’s not giving up without an uphill battle. And for delegations, it seems to have sparked renewed interest. The first major delegations are back, and many others have already contacted me for the coming weeks and months. Since the pandemic could be dived through halfway comfortably, mainly thanks to Silicon Valley companies like Zoom, Netflix, Google, Apple and others, the fascination that had somehow been dismissed as Silicon Valley hype before is also back. The supposed dead live longer.