This year has been an enormous economic challenge for our country. The Covid pandemic has forced businesses to close and lay off workers in droves, and caused sharp changes in how and where people work – disrupting families and careers.
But one of the few silver linings of 2020 has been companies transitioning to remote work en masse, a development so significant it has the power to reshape how tech — the most powerful industry in our economy — operates, and it just might unite our bitterly divided nation, too.
Silicon Valley has long been a cradle of tech innovation, and the region’s grasp on the industry has only tightened over the past decade. The tech industry is the primary driver of the U.S. economy — the five largest tech companies account for 23.8% of the S&P’s market value — and the industry is overwhelmingly located in the Bay Area. Of the seven most profitable companies in tech, five of them (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google and Intel) are based in Silicon Valley, and the majority of venture capital investments are in companies based in the region.
For decades, tech visionaries thought this concentration of talent was a necessary condition for success, but recently tech firms have come to recognize its downsides.
By focusing operations in the Bay Area, the tech sector was not only limiting its talent pool but also driving down the quality of life in the region. These problems escalated during the startup boom of the past 20 years, as people flocked to the Bay Area, making housing increasingly unaffordable and driving up the cost of living. Housing affordability in the Bay Area hit historic lows in the late 2010s, with residents needing to earn nearly $200,000 in 2019 to afford a median priced home, or three times the national median income.
It’s no wonder that the biggest companies in Silicon Valley have created outposts in cities not typically associated with tech. Apple’s second largest office is now in Austin. The SalesForce Tower in Indianapolis is the tallest building in the state of Indiana. And cities like Salt Lake and Denver are emerging as tech hubs.
- Lower costs for companies
- Increased quality of life for workers
- A more talented, diverse workforce
- A more unified country Read more via Forbes