Therese Poletti’s Tech Tales: ‘Miami is dead. Austin is dead. San Francisco is back!’ Can AI really save this city?

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Stock Market

San Francisco is the tale of two cities within one: full of dichotomies involving class struggles and extremes of wealth and poverty, but a big contrast also exists in one of the city’s main economic engines — technology. The city seems to be poised on the verge of another tech boom, this time fueled by artificial intelligence, since the public debut of OpenAI’s vastly improved chatbot, Chat GPT, last November. While the tech sector has rebounded on expectations of another boom, San Francisco’s financial district and “SoMa” (South of Market) areas still have office vacancy rates that are among the highest in the U.S., hovering around 27%.

Read: San Francisco’s push to turn office buildings into homes hinges on this simple idea. At first glance, it isn’t obvious that a new tech revolution is afoot across the city. But it is starting small, in residential neighborhoods, where turn-of-the 20th century mansions and houses have been transformed into communities where entrepreneurs code and help each other in houses set up exclusively for hackers. And some tech workers who fled the Bay Area — and offices in SoMa and downtown — for peaceful rural locations or vibrant beach towns are coming back. Dubbed “boomerangs,” these returning workers sense that another gold rush is coming. “San Francisco is reclaiming its throne and the white-hot center of gravity,” said C.C. Gong, an entrepreneur and evangelist of the city’s growing startup community. “Miami is dead and Austin is dead. San Francisco is back!” she exclaimed at an event sponsored by Reinvent Futures last month at Shack15, a co-working space for entrepreneurs in the Ferry Building, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The gathering of close to 200 techies, academics, government officials and others focused on a wid …

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