I’d been meaning to write this blog post after the San Francisco 49ers won the Superbowl, just a few months after the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. But then the last few minutes of play in that Superbowl undercut the thrust of my lead – though just barely.
No matter how you frame it, San Francisco, and I mean by that Silicon Valley and the whole Bay Area, is an amazing place to be right now. Set aside the success of the sports teams, though that would have been nice icing on the cake. In the areas that really matter most for the world right now and going forward for the next couple decades, this region pretty much can’t be beat. If you had to pick one city, one region in the world right now, as ground zero for the reinvention of the new systems needed for the 21st century – it would have to be San Francisco.
Take the 3 core areas of fundamental transition that America and the world are going through right now. In each of them, this region seems hard to beat as the place to be:
The Digital Transformation: There’s really no region remotely comparable when it comes to where the action is in the ongoing Digital Revolution. It’s really quite astounding that almost every tech company of significance is based here. True, Seattle has its Amazon, and, I guess you would still have to include Microsoft. They are the outliers that prove the rule. And there is the occasional important tech company outside America. But if you are interested in how technology is remaking and will remake the world, you come here or you visit very frequently.
The Global Transformation: By definition, many places in the world can claim to be part of the globalization of everything story. But there are few places outside the United States where you get much of a cross-fertilization of cultures and nationalities. And within the United States, there are few places that could beat California in that category. Silicon Valley and the whole San Francisco Bay Area in general right now is creating a huge sucking sound as they suck in talent from all corners of the world. It’s quite remarkable the balanced blend of Asia and Europe and Latin America that you find here. That polyglot is especially valuable when heading into an era where many systems are increasingly going global.
The Sustainable Transformation: The clean tech industry may have lost some of its luster with the recent stampede into new natural gas opportunities. But clean tech is playing long ball, and it’s inevitable that this area is only going to grow and play an increasing role in providing the energy of the 21st century. Watch as the continued droughts and bizarre weather (and the renewed emphasis from the Obama Administration) continue to raise the profile of this sector. Plus, energy tech is just one facet of the whole sustainable transition. There are many other industries in the economy just beginning to redesign their products and services in more sustainable directions. Much of that work is also happening in the Bay Area – though to be sure this region does have its challengers outside the US.
There’s all kinds of other reasons that the San Francisco region is such a happening place to be right now. I’ll give just a couple more and stop before I alienate too many people from the east coast.
Millennial Influx: San Francisco has always attracted young people, but it’s becoming a Mecca for the Millennials right now. The Mission District, the neighborhood most known for young people, is booming. Literally 20 new restaurants have opened up on the Valencia strip in the last few years. The rental market is white hot as young people stream in from all corners. This gives the city an especially interesting buzz since the Millennial Generation has such a wonderful constellation of characteristics, such as a can-do optimism, civic-mindedness, and collaborative ethos.
Progressive Resurgence: San Francisco has always had its “progressive” politics, but for many years the ideas were old school and politically correct. Not very exciting. Now there’s a new sense of blending technology and policy, with hip groups like Code for America becoming the darlings of city officials. Moreover, California itself seems to be entering a new era where progressives are getting freed to think big and swing for the fences. All elected statewide officials are Democrats, and both the state House and Senate have Dem super-majorities. The Republican party, long dragged to the right by conservatives, is decimated right now. The public just last election voted to tax themselves, and especially the wealthy. Partly because of that, the state budget is now balanced, public confidence rising, and the economy gearing up.
All these pieces taken together point to an amazing opportunity for reinvention. We’re pleased that Reinventors is rooted in this city and region ( and even that young Mission District). We hope to bring many of the diverse and eclectic thinkers and doers who have collected here into the group video environment for our Roundtable series as we stream out for anyone to see. The beauty of this new medium of group video is that we can connect up like-minded people doing great things in other parts of America and the world and virtually bring them to San Francisco too. Let the reinvention begin.