Monday, June 22, 2015

Is Silicon Valley too hyped?

After I came across "Where is Europe's Silicon Valley?", it has been bothering me. If I were young today, I would be very reluctant to come to Silicon Valley based on the comparison of my visit 2 years ago and now.

I had come back to San Francisco area for the first time after over 40 years 2 years ago. I was surprised by how little it had changed. The public transport was similar though the street cars were replaced by light rail. They were traveling on the same paths, except that now light rail was underground on Market street. I could follow the same routes I used to take as a teenager and a student here. The houses in Sunset district seemed the same. The house we had rented for US$200 probably rented for a lot more but it was still better than the fall in the value of the rupee during the same period. I had liked the visit.

So, what has happened in the last two years to make me unhappy about this place? It has to be the rate at which the rents are increasing in comparison to the salaries. If a person was already paying 40% of take home on rent, obviously the quality of life is going to suffer.

Hence, it was nice to read "Jimmy Wales: London is Better for Tech Than 'Dreadful' Silicon Valley"

“I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London.
It takes time for people's mindset to change and it will.

Even in India, housing remains a big issue. When I started, as my uncle told me that even his colleague at a newspaper, who was a committed communist, had to pay black to buy a flat. Hence, buying a place was a very difficult proposition for young people without family money. No longer thanks to loans and organized builders catering, in particular, to the IT boom.

The bottom line - the direction of change matters more.
In India, we see hope as our standard of life keeps improving. In the west, we can look forward to the deterioration of our life in comparison to that of our parents

No wonder I am happier in Goa or Chandigarh or even Pune :)