It has been an incredibly tough period for everyone the past few months as the global COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out whole industries from the economic map.
While tech has been among the most resilient industries in the face of this cataclysm, the extreme mobility of the industry’s workforce begs large questions about what the future of startups and work will look like moving forward.
We’ve debated what COVID-19 will do to the rise of the college town as startup hubs and how the pandemic will change the way we work in coffee shops and neighborhoods. Now, we want to address one of the larger questions that has been bugging us: Will tech continue to centralize in hubs like San Francisco and New York City, or will remote work and all the other second-order effects lead to a more decentralized startup ecosystem?
We have three perspectives from our writers, with wildly different predictions about what the future has in store.
First, we have Danny Crichton, who believes that tech, and particularly the VC industry, will remain as concentrated as ever, although where it is concentrated will perhaps shift a bit. Meanwhile, Alex Wilhelm asserts that startup growth outside major hubs will actually accelerate, spreading tech wealth even farther outside the metropolises. Finally, Natasha Mascarenhas argues that the combination of the economic dislocation of COVID-19 and the increasing attention to equity in tech will lead to more intense investment outside core startup hubs.
Danny Crichton: A new Napa Valley café shows why in-person networks matter
First there was Sand Hill Road. Then there was South Park. And now there’s Solbar at Solage in Calistoga.
Despite the wide availability of remote work tools over the past two decades, VCs have always miraculously congregated in extraordinarily tight quarters. VCs weren’t attracted to Sand Hill’s low-slung office buildings for the architecture, which were and are a terror to eyes with a taste for anything more sophisticated than “here be four walls and a roof.” VCs didn’t head to South Park to enjoy what Google Maps calls a “tree-lined oval garden” nestled between light industrial buildings. And they aren’t heading to Solbar in Napa Valley for Californian cuisine and a dining room conveniently closed on Partner Mondays.