During the pandemic, masses of workers left Silicon Valley and other expensive metropolitan areas for (often literally) greener pastures. For example, according to change of address data, more than 170,000 people left San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, California. Most of those who migrated now work remotely.
For companies like Dropbox, headquartered in San Francisco, this required a rethink. Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston, however, is still optimistic about the benefits of a Bay Area address thanks to the “network effects” of local founders, investors, and world-class universities. “The Bay Area will be fine,” he said during the Fast Company Innovation Festival 2021 on Friday.
Michael Seibel, partner at startup accelerator Y Combinator (YC), said at the festival that he sees moving to remote work as a good thing for both the Silicon Valley brand and the world at large. “Sometimes there is this assumption that there is this limited cake,” he said, “and it turns out that the more accessible Silicon Valley is, the more useful it is.”
Y Combinator has been operating in remote capacity since the pandemic began, which has enabled the participation of founding teams from around the world. In the youngest group of YC companies, around half of the teams were based abroad and around half of the founders were blacks, Latinx, women, or members of another underrepresented group. “Covid has made Silicon Valley a concept that can touch more people around the world and help more people around the world,” said Seibel.
For its part, Dropbox hopes to “open up new talent pools in places we may not have an office,” said Houston. “The redesign of the way we work offers many great, new opportunities.”
Dropbox was encouraged by the quality of the applicants and the diversity of the regions they represent. “I can’t think of a better time for us on this front.”