Working in Silicon Valley a little while ago would have really been something. You were a renegade working in the wild west of technology. You were a cowboy or even a pirate. Steve Jobs once described the culture as, “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.”
Well, a lot has changed over the years and Apple has grown to the point where they are now the Navy. So are the other Silicon Valley companies such as Adobe, Google and Facebook. They’re no longer rebelling against the establishment, they are the establishment.
Does this fundamental shift mean that working in Silicon Valley is no longer what it used to be?
No Longer the Rebels. Now the Empire
There used to be this idea that working in the valley meant you would be working for a more enlightened culture, with complete freedom of speech and unlimited creative freedom.
Now, Silicon Valley work cultures are becoming increasingly more like the “stuffy” corporate work cultures they used to pride themselves on being better than.
Today, you may ride a bicycle to work or get cereal in the breakroom, but many are saying that working for “cool” companies like Facebook or Google is no different than the old school companies like Goldman Sachs or General Electric. The easy-breezy attitudes have disappeared now that there are stockholders to keep happy.
Worth the Price of Living?
It’s also been well-documented that the price of living in these communities is beyond out of control. Yes, you can earn a good living working for one of the world’s biggest brands, but you’re also living in one of the world’s truly insane real estate markets.
How bad has it gotten? People who live and work in the area that make $400,000 a year consider themselves middle class. At the same time, about one-quarter of households earn over $200,000 a year, but they’re still not in a position to buy a median-priced home.
You need over 2.5 million dollars to buy this 900 square feet of space, and the housing crisis is so dire that 4,300 of students at San Jose State University have experienced homelessness this past year alone!
If these are the prices you’re paying, you might want to take some of the cereal in the lunchroom home with you at night.
On the Decline?
Silicon Valley is still the home of most of the top tech companies in North America. But, for how much longer?
AOL’s founder declared that Silicon Valley had likely reached its peak in 2017, as the rest of the country has started to catch up to them on the innovation front.
At the same time, speculation has run rampant that the heads of a number of high profile tech companies have had their heads turned away from Silicon Valley at the temptation of moving to more attractive and more affordable cities.
It may be sad when New York is seen as a more affordable option, but right now the Big Apple is making big waves to catch up on the West Coast. Last year, $26.6 billion in startup funding was raised in San Francisco and San Jose, but a fairly comparable $19.3 billion was raised in New York and Boston.