The Atlantic

Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.
Source: Reuters / Elijah Nouvelage

Updated on April 19 at 1:28 p.m. ET.

There has never been a town like the one San Francisco is becoming, a place where a single industry composed almost entirely of rich people thoroughly dominates the local economy. Much of the money that’s been squished out of the rest of the world gets funneled by the internet pipes to this little sliver of land on the Pacific Ocean, jutting out into the glory of the bay. The city now sits atop a geyser of cash created from what the scholar Shoshana Zuboff calls “behavioral surplus”—the natural resource created from your behavior, which is to say your mind.

Literal colonies of the working poor now cling to forgotten streets in RV communities. Homeless encampments are stitched onto any liminal plot of land. To lose your apartment doesn’t mean moving one neighborhood over but three cities away, to Antioch or Gilroy or Stockton.

But wait, it gets worse.

This year, eight major tech companies are expected to hold initial public offerings. The first, Lyft, last month. Yesterday, Pinterest did. Airbnb, Instacart, Palantir, Postmates, Slack, and Uber remain. Amazingly, all but Palantir are headquartered in San Francisco, currently home to only five other public software companies—Dropbox, Salesforce, Square, Twitter, and Yelp.

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