SF’s techies return from their pandemic exodus

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The Future. After a hard few years for San Francisco, the famously expensive city is finally starting to recover from its steady outflow of residents and tenants. AI hype and return-to-office mandates are causing the city to liven up but aren’t protecting it against the volatility of bubbles.

Just like old times
Big Tech’s biggest players are trickling back into the city — and bringing their workers with them.

  • Tech founders like Elon Musk, Henrique Dubugras, Pedro Franceschi, and Howie Liu are all returning with hopes — or mandates — that their employees come, too.
  • This marks a 180 for some bosses and investors who encouraged employees to move to cities with lower tax burdens and smaller populations during the pandemic.
  • SF’s commercial real estate scene has reflected this trend, with AI startups (including OpenAI) reserving plenty of the city’s vacant office space.

Look, a bubble
This is good news in the short term for anyone with a commercial interest in San Francisco. But like every gold rush in history, the AI gold rush is vulnerable to the short-sightedness of bubbles.

Why invest in office space for companies designed to replace the workers who use it?

Luke Perrotta


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