What started as a blip is now a year-long slump for Manhattan real estate. And it shows no signs of turning around. Total real estate sales in Manhattan fell 11
How do people who don’t work in tech in the Bay Area feel about those who do?
Contrary to popular media, most people in the Bay Area don’t work in tech, and I’m one of them. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a really odd bubble to live in.
For example, I’m in real estate and investment management while my wife does something with cloud computing. My inability to fully describe what my wife does is not out of an attempt to be cagey or secretive. Simply, I’m not really sure what she does. Much like my failure to understand stuff like quantum mechanics, due to a complete lack of an advanced math background, I’ve given up trying to understand the constantly evolving intricacies of whatever my wife does.
Despite having grown up around tech my whole life in the Bay Area, my understanding never quite progressed beyond basic programming and networking. Like my college roommate once sagely pronounced about 24 years ago, we’re rapidly entering an age where the vast majority of people have no idea how the tech around them works. Most people will simply enjoy the benefits of tech and assume that it’ll always work, but they’ll have no way to work around issues. Apple saw that and installed “geniuses” at their stores. Meanwhile the rest of us are mere lemmings.
At home, this has led to an interesting dynamic. Where I had been called upon to be tech support for others growing up, my wife is now the master of all tech around the house. Being a bit of a Luddite, I prefer fewer tech gadgets than my wife would like, so we’re always years behind the latest innovations, which are happening literally right down the street from our house.
I’m proud that my wife directly contributes to a brighter future, whatever it is that she does. I marvel at the genius all around me and deeply enjoy the crisp and savvy interactions I have with very well-informed friends and clients in tech. Where some have had outrageous luck in their fortunes, I don’t begrudge their success. I can’t do what they do, but when they do well, I’ll do well.
Obviously, I’m in a rather particular role that lets me tag along for the rise of the tech world. So, thank goodness I came to build this career out of business school.
But, I do understand those who have been crowded out or outcompeted by the surge of new tech money around the Bay Area. It’s tough when tech workers can bid up Bay Area housing costs 50% every few years, just like a fast growing developing country. It’s been happening for decades, with occasional corrections. People who don’t work in a profession or tech are simply priced out. Owning your own home is the only means of long-term financial survival, and that bar is increasingly out of reach.
Eventually, this exodus of non tech workers will drive up labor costs until they can start affording to live here. At that point, the Bay Area will truly operate in its own economic island where everyone is highly paid compared to those just outside the 50 mile bubble, not unlike the literal Manhattan Island.
I’ll stick around for as long as I can, helping others find their footholds into the Bay Area and build their fortunes in real estate, until one fine day…