Read All About It

If you’re not interested in hearing me complain about something, then you’d best move along. We’ll look at this picture while you make your way to happier places on the Internet.

Brewer's Blackbirds

Are they gone? OK, let’s start complaining. This is about the San Francisco Chronicle; long time subscriber, first time complainer. Today’s Chron had an article on the front page about the impact of “tech” on downtown commercial real estate. I know what you’re asking. I had the same question. Who cares? I went ahead and read the article so you don’t have to, and ran across some astonishing journalism. The writer sets the stage by talking about the last boom and bust cycle in the dot-com era, and speculates on whether the current boom is about to bust:

Whether we’re in a bubble has become a boring semantic debate. But we do know that this boom will end, because all booms end. The real questions are when will it happen – and how painful will it be when it does?

He dispenses rather quickly with the bubble question, wouldn’t you say? In the last crash, 300,000 people in the Bay Area lost their jobs. But that’s just boring semantics. I want to focus on his “real questions”; when will it happen, and how painful will it be. This is the problem in a nutshell. If the writer, and others who speculate in real estate, followed the Mellowcat rule of financial planning, the answers would be: it will happen now, and it will be historically painful. Get ready for that, and you’ll be in great shape.

But he goes on to say, essentially, that “this time is different”.

Apps, social media and cloud services have become a crucial part of nearly every industry, transforming business in a way that fly-by-night dot-coms never really did.

I feel better now.

In addition, the definition of tech has expanded to include education, entertainment, media, retail and basically any other business that develops an app or website.

Now I feel bad again. What if some of these terrific app or website developers turn into fly-by-night dot-coms? That couldn’t happen, could it?

I’m done complaining now. The city and region is going through another cycle, and so they’re probably trying to find some key indicator that shows where we are on the trajectory. I suppose you could just transpose “Gold Rush”, “post-WWII manufacturing”, “semiconductors”, or “dot-com” for “tech” and find similar articles in the Chronicle archives. Something else will come along.

1 Comment

  1. “this time is different”; can apps, social media and the cloud not leave the Bay Area? Maybe so; perhaps the Google barge in the Bay will anchor it all to that part of the world. Raise an Anchor Steam to that thought! But you will always have weather on your side and scenery. And Annie!

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