Tracking the San Francisco Tech Exodus

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For almost as long as we’ve been tracking the COVID-19 pandemic, has been closely monitoring the San Francisco tech exodus. Of course, some of the forces driving this phenomenon—remote work and the growing appeal of cities beyond San Francisco—predate 2020. Few can argue, however, that the pandemic has accelerated these trends. What we’re seeing today is nothing short of a mass migration of tech companies and tech employees outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.

To help you keep up with fast-moving data surrounding the San Francisco tech exodus, created an all-in-one resource. Below, you’ll find the latest insights about tech’s relocation, the economic implications of a tech exodus in San Francisco, and context around the policies that have led us to where we are today.

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Tech Companies Are Leaving San Francisco


Square feet of vacant office space in San Francisco
(the equivalent of 10+ Salesforce Towers!)


Companies that plan to or have already downsized their office in San Francisco

Source: Survey

  • San Francisco’s office vacancy rate has risen to 21.8 percent with the amount of vacant office space surpassing levels after both the 2008 Great Recession and the dot-com bust. According to data from JLL , San Francisco also recorded the lowest level of new leasing activity since at least the 1990s.
  • The Bay Area’s proportion of VC investments in 2021 was 27 percent, the first time it dipped below 30 percent in more than ten years. “The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent exodus from San Francisco will only exacerbate this trend,” writes VC analyst Kyle Stanford in PitchBook’s 2021 US Venture Capital Outlook report.

In January 2021, surveyed 83 tech founders and CEOs, the majority of whom said they plan to downsize their presence in San Francisco and factor local regulations into their decisions to grow (or not) in San Francisco. 

Source: Survey

Prominent Tech Companies Downsizing IN or Moving from San Francisco

Over a dozen major tech companies have downsized their office space in San Francisco or moved out of the City altogether.


Airbnb listed 78,565 square feet of office space at 650 Seventh Street in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. The news comes shortly after Airbnb announced it would open an East Coast hub in Atlanta, Georgia.

Airbnb has marketed three of its office buildings in San Francisco for sublease, reducing its real estate footprint in San Francisco by 424,000 square feet.

Ancestry listed all 128,570 square feet of its office space in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood.


Autodesk plans to close its new 117,000-square-foot office at 300 Mission Street.


Brex will let its San Francisco lease expire in 2021 after Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi announced Brex would become a remote-first company. The Co-Founders themselves are moving to Los Angeles.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma gave up its San Francisco office altogether—and earlier than expected—opting to move all of its employees to Oakland with several being able to work from home permanently.

Digital Realty

Digital Realty announced it would move its headquarters from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. CEO A. William Stein cited Austin’s “affordable cost of living” and “supportive business climate” among reasons for the move.


Good Eggs filed with the California Secretary of State to move their headquarters and executive office from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood to Oakland. They put 49,560 square feet of their San Francisco office space on the market.

Good Eggs

Good Eggs filed with the California Secretary of State to move their headquarters and executive office from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood to Oakland. They put 49,560 square feet of their San Francisco office space on the market.


Landing announced that it will move its headquarters from San Francisco to Birmingham, Alabama, where it promises to create 816 new jobs.


Optimizely listed all 78,000 square feet of its corporate headquarters in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood for lease.


Oracle listed four out of the five floors, or 85,622 square feet, of office space it occupies for sublease at 475 Sansome Street in San Francisco’s Financial District. This comes several months after Oracle announced that it was moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas.


PayPal is giving up 101,000 square feet of office space in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.


Pinterest terminated its 490,000-square-foot lease at 88 Bluxome Street in San Francisco.


Salesforce canceled its 325,000-square-foot lease at the unbuilt Parcel F tower in San Francisco’s Transbay district. Salesforce also listed about half the space it occupies at 350 Mission Street—roughly 225,000 square feet—for sublease. The news comes just weeks after Salesforce announced its permanent remote work policy.


Slack listed all of the space at its 45 Fremont St headquarters — some 208,460 square feet — on the sublease market.


Scribd listed its headquarters at 460 Bryant Street—65,890 square feet—as available for sublease.


Splunk listed nearly 100,000 square feet of its office at 250 Brannan Street for sublease.


Stripe announced it would move its headquarters to South San Francisco in 2019. Now the company is preparing to shed all 295,000 square feet of its San Francisco office.


Trulia will sublease 105,897 square feet of office space at 535 Mission Street when its lease expires in May 2021.


Twitter listed over 100,000 square feet of its San Francisco headquarters for sublease.


Wish listed 106,169 square feet of its office at 1 Sansome Street for sublease as the company rethinks its office space needs in a post-pandemic world.


Yelp, which listed all 14 stories (161,876 square feet) of its San Francisco headquarters for lease, found a new home by taking three floors at 350 Mission Street (53,596 square feet).


Zynga plans to exit its San Francisco headquarters at 650 Townsend and put all $185,000 square feet of office space on the sublease market.

San Francisco-based Initialized Capital released data on how their portfolio companies will approach offices and remote work after the pandemic. Over 36 percent of Initialized’s portfolio companies plan to be fully decentralized after the COVID-19 pandemic. And 40 percent of founders say that the best place to start a company will be in the cloud (rather than San Francisco). 

Remote Work Policies Among Prominent San Francisco Bay Area Tech Companies

Hybrid remote work:

Remote work until at least September 2022:

Remote work until at least January 2023:

Tech Workers Are Also Leaving San Francisco


Drop in San Francisco residents between January 2020 and September 2021


Median rent increase of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco from March 2021 to March 2022 (this still represents a 13 percent decrease since the start of the pandemic in March 2020)


Drop in Bay Area’s tech worker inflow/outflow ratio—the steepest decline nationwide—from April to October, comparing 2019 to 2020.

Source: Big Technology

  • Between January 2020 and September 2021, over 72,000 people moved out of San Francisco according to the University of California Consumer Credit Panel data. That figure is almost eight times higher than from the same period between 2018 to 2019.
  •  In a report by the California Policy Lab that tracks Californians’ credit history, research fellow Natalie Holmes said, “San Francisco is experiencing a unique and dramatic exodus.”
  • It’s not just that more people are leaving San Francisco; less people are moving into San Francisco. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, move-ins to San Francisco are down 24 percent compared to the previous two years. 

The Bay Area added just 96 tech workers for every 100 tech workers that left between March and October 2020.


Tech’s Contribution to the San Francisco Economy

Annual economic impact of San Francisco’s 100K tech jobs on the San Francisco economy

Yearly business tax revenue to San Francisco

San Francisco GDP generated by office activities

Source: Public Comment

  • San Francisco relies on a robust office space market for critical revenue, including for affordable housing. In the fall of 2019, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation to substantially increase the linkage fee on nonresidential developments—from $28.57 to $69.60 per square foot by 2022. The slowdown in San Francisco’s office space market will mean less office space development, which in turn will hurt San Francisco’s affordable housing funding. (Proposition E passed in the March 2020 San Francisco election will also not help.)

How a Tech Exodus Will Impact San Francisco’s Economy

Projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2024-25

Decrease in revenue from San Francisco sales taxes in 2020

Percent of San Francisco office workers that returned to the office by March 2022

Source: Chief Economist Ted Egan

  • In 2020, San Francisco sales tax revenue dropped by as much as 70 percent in San Francisco’s downtown, which relies heavily on restaurants and hotels.
  • New revenue sources including the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, excess Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF), and new taxes adopted during the pandemic will help the City partially offset its slow economic recovery according to Chief Economist Ted Egan. However, the City will need to fill a few funding gaps as business, property, and other local taxes like hotel and sales taxes won’t reach pre-pandemic levels for a while.
  • Current and future San Francisco budget deficits are directly tied to losses in hotel, business, and sales taxes. The San Francisco Business Times reported that the City expected close to $1.5 billion in business taxes in 2019-2020 but ended the fiscal year $228 million under budget.
  • From April to June 2020, revenue from San Francisco’s local sales tax dropped to $30.8 million, a decrease of 43 percent from 2019. Stay-at-home orders resulted in steep declines in brick-and-mortar sales taxes throughout the Bay Area. All of the counties surrounding San Francisco, however, saw increases in online sales taxes while San Francisco registered only a 1 percent increase—the worst showing among California’s 20 largest counties. Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Chief Economist Ted Egan attributes the drop in revenue to “tech people moving.” Two years later, Chief Economist says that this trend remains as sales tax numbers are up across the board in California, except in San Francisco.

The city’s near-term economic outlook relies mostly on the decisions [San Francisco’s office industries and their employees] make about the value of their downtown office space.

—San Francisco City Controller’s Office, Five-Year Financial Plan

  • There is a fundamental link between the tech industry and San Francisco restaurants and small businesses, particularly in the City’s downtown. OpenTable data shows that despite an increase of restaurant reservations in San Francisco, reservations in January 2022 are still down an average of 63 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 


It Costs A LOT to Do Business in San Francisco

Tech executives who consider San Francisco taxes and regulations significant factors in their decisions toward company growth

Source: Survey

Most expensive office space market in the United States

Source: Statistica

Business tax increases passed in San Francisco over the last 10 years

  • Despite being heralded as the innovation capital of the world, San Francisco policymakers have spent the last near-decade mounting regulatory barriers against the tech industry. In 2013, San Francisco protested private commuter shuttles. In 2018, San Francisco ordered scooter companies to cease operations. And in 2019, San Francisco attempted to ban corporate cafeterias.

Divisive rhetoric and policies that seek to punish the tech sector and tech workers will only smother San Francisco’s innovation economy and fiscal sustainability for the long term. Now is the time to end the ‘us vs. them’ dynamic and work together to rebuild. San Francisco can be at its best again when we come together to improve our City.

—Ron Conway, Founder of SV Angel and Board Chair

  • In 2020 alone, San Francisco passed three substantial tax increases on the tech and business community. These included a “CEO tax” and a gross receipts tax that increases the rate on the tech industry to double that of other comparable cities such as Seattle.
  • San Francisco’s record on taxes reflects a statewide trend. According to the Tax Foundation’s 2021 State Business Tax Climate Index, California’s tax system is ranked the second worst in the country. For corporate taxes, California falls into 28th place, while it lands very near the bottom ranking—49—for individual income taxes.

San Francisco Is the Most Expensive City in the United States

Median home price in San Francisco (highest in the country)

Sources: Zumper


Minimum qualifying income needed to afford a house in San Francisco

San Francisco tech workers who cannot afford to buy a home in San Francisco (82 percent of all San Francisco households cannot afford a home in San Francisco)

Source: Recode

  • Even as the median price of a one-bedroom in San Francisco towers above other cities at $2800/month, there’s a new most expensive rental market in the country as New York City surpassed San Francisco for the first time since 2014.
  • A recent study by the AEI Housing Center found that the average tech household can afford a home in 90 of the 100 largest metros in the United States. San Francisco ranked among the six least affordable metros for tech workers, with the average tech household able to afford only 21 percent of available homes in San Francisco in 2019.
  • Between 2010 and 2018, San Francisco produced only one new unit of housing for every 8.5 new jobs. Local zoning restrictions, meanwhile, render the construction of apartments illegal in approximately 75 percent of San Francisco. And San Francisco policymakers have repeatedly opposed measures to upzone, including California Senator Scott Wiener’s landmark housing bill, SB 50, which would have increased housing density around transit corridors throughout California.
  • Prior to the pandemic, the San Francisco Bay Area housing crisis led to a growing number of super-commuters traveling more than 90 minutes to and from work. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of super-commuters in San Francisco County increased by 110 percent with many of the surrounding counties seeing even greater increases.

We wanted to buy a house that we would be happy to live in for decades, and that’s just not possible in the Bay Area, within our budget, even as well-paid professionals.

—Samantha DuPont, Moved to Portland, OR