• San Francisco

Bay Area Research Rant: Tech, Tech and, oh yeah, Tech

By Robert Sammons, Regional Director – Northwest U.S. Research

Are you sick of talking or hearing about tech yet? It does affect where and how we work (and shop and play). And it really has taken control of our lives from birth to death. Well you’re not going to escape the topic here. As a matter of fact, you’ll be seeing a lot more on it. If you follow C&W Research and/or this Rant at all, you will know that our Tech Cities 1.0 report was released last week. It takes a rather scientific look at what makes a tech city and names what we consider the top 25 markets today.

This week we released a deeper look at the top 10 markets – what’s driving them in particular along with some key demographic and real estate metrics. Of those top 10, two (or three depending how you look at it) are in the Bay Area.

The first market on our list is Silicon Valley, the birthplace of tech. Several key companies control much of Silicon Valley though there are smaller firms as well. And just as many thought that tech growth might have been slowing, Google announces it may just want to expand by 6 to 8 million square feet in downtown San Jose (enough space for up to 20,000 employees). Thankfully this is to be transit-oriented development connected to an expanded Diridon Station with housing and retail too. It’s most definitely an exciting time for Silicon Valley as it moves from suburban to much more urban. There’s still plenty of corporate campus sprawl and mind-numbing traffic but it appears that many cities and corporations see the writing on the wall – that’s just not sustainable.

In the number two spot is San Francisco. Well let me rephrase that – it’s actually San Francisco/San Francisco Peninsula. For the primary report we combined these two linked markets but also wanted to give each its due so we created two parts. Neither market needs much more explanation than you’ll find in the actual one-pagers. San Francisco has blossomed with home-grown tech as well as those Silicon Valley companies looking for more of an urban environment for at least some of their divisions. Along the Peninsula, you will find both tech and life sciences. Developers there are finding that it’s a great thing to have Caltrain and its commuter rail line pulling in the workforce (of course proximity to both San Francisco and Silicon Valley plus SFO right in its living room are all hugely beneficial).

There’s plenty of insight on the other eight markets so please take a look at the comparisons – there is both similarity to the markets but some wide-ranging differences too.

Also, the C&W Bay Area research team is always looking at ways to define tech. But what the heck is tech? Well, we decided to break it all down – specifically in regards to leasing activity. We’ve seen the scary stories about some possible tech implosion and the entire economy collapsing. And no doubt there will be consolidation within some areas going forward (autonomous driving likely being one of those). But tech is really not some perplexing sector that can’t be explained (okay well maybe some parts of it are!). And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, it is also everywhere – every part of our economy and every industry. Right here in San Francisco, there are a wide variety of growing tech companies and we divvy them all up in our Tech 11. Take a look and let me know what you think if you have a moment.

And finally, almost everyone is talking about the just announced purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon. That’s definitely going to shake things up in the grocery world but it also means so much more. This weekend there was commentary about the deal itself but also the future of how we do what we do.

This post is guest commentary from the latest weekly edition of our Bay Area Research Rant, which you can subscribe to for free by e-mailing robert.sammons@cushwake.com.

Robert_SammonsRobert Sammons is a Research Director for Cushman & Wakefield. Based in San Francisco, Robert’s principal roles include working closely with the C&W research teams across the Northwest – including Northern California, Portland and Denver. Robert is author of numerous documents that delve into a wide variety of real estate and economic trends. He has been a quoted source for all manner of real estate and related economic information in many widely known media outlets across the country. Robert has 29 years of real estate experience as both an appraiser and researcher. He earned a BBA in Real Estate from The University of Georgia and an MS in Real Estate from Georgia State University. Robert is a member of the Urban Land Institute.

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