The SF Bay Area: It’s Back Enough

So since March 2020 I’ve only spent about 30%-40% of my time in the SF Bay Area, and almost none of it in San Francisco proper.

After a few weeks of lockdown, we instead opened up a handful of pod offices in downtown Palo Alto.  Everyone had their own tiny office, with its own HVAC, and more, and we could meet outdoors in a courtyard.  A true moment in time.

Since then, for a variety of reasons, I’ve split my time between SoCal, NorCal, and Other.

And until December 2022, I didn’t really regret not being in the Bay Area all the time anymore.  I just didn’t bump into enough people.  Our SF office sat empty, only used a handful of times in the last 2+ years.  SF, in general, was sad for a long time, and much of it still is.  The area around our office (The Design District) remains vacant.

But since then, well … it was the first time I saw that the Bay Area is back enough, for me at least.  My guess is half the VCs and half the founders I worked with in March 2020 are still there.  Maybe not driving to work in downtown San Francisco like they used to, but still having Holiday Parties, meetings, in-person founder pitches, and more.  I had a great meeting at Salesforce tower, and it was so buzzing, it even felt like a hint of 2019.  A hint.

The endless floors of SDRs and AEs in SOMA will never, ever come back.  At least, I don’t think so.  Marc Benioff may be trying, getting more folks back into the office just before the holidays, but, in general, in SaaS, we’ve learned to just better leveraging distributed sales and engineering teams.

But half of our tiny SaaStr team was in the office together, and I saw so many great folks I haven’t seen in so long.  Enough folks are back and working full-time in the SF Bay Area.  Is it better than New York?  I don’t know.  (I’m not wading into that). Is it better than Miami? Well, I love Miami, but it’s still tiny for B2B (if not Web3).

It’s back enough.  Back enough, that I want to be there, at least most of the year.

It’s not the bridges, or the hikes.  It’s not that beautiful of a city, IMHO.  And the Peninsula is downright boring.

But for me, at least, it’s a place to still be with and interact with more great folks in SaaS than anywhere else other than Zoom.

I missed it, and only saw it really, truly being back in December 2022.  Not like it was before.  But … enough.

Published on December 27, 2022

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