Bay Watch: A Weekly Look into the Bay Area Economy
March 24th, 2023
While banking failures and tech layoffs spark fear, the Bay Area’s tech and venture capital ecosystem remains strong.
The Bay Area economy is considered one of the most innovative business ecosystems in the world, leading in both startups and technological advancements. Despite historic strength in these key industries, the Bay Area is currently facing significant economic pressures that are leaving many concerned. Mostly recently, the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, a crucial resource for many Bay Area startups, has created uncertainty regarding the near future of venture capital investment.
Venture capital investment experienced its highest ever level during the pandemic, with the Bay Area seeing upwards of $29 billion in quarterly funding and nearly 40% of all VC investments made in the US. However, much of this momentum has slowed down in recent quarters in the Bay Area and nationwide. The region saw much lower receipts of VC across the last two quarters which is cause for some concern due to the region’s reliance on the VC industry. However, even at its current low, the Bay Area received 23%, or just over a fifth, of all US VC funding during Q4 of 2022. Despite VC funding dropping off a cliff, the Bay Area is still seeing a significant portion of VC funding entering the region and is receiving more than any other nationwide.
California and the US have consistently exceeded the Bay Area’s job recovery, hitting pre-pandemic employment levels last summer. The Bay Area’s slower jobs recovery is largely attributable to the lagging recovery of its Leisure and Hospitality sector, which includes jobs in accommodation (hotels, lodging), food services (restaurants, bars), arts, entertainment, and recreation. And despite tech layoffs, some of which are still not reflected in the data, the region continues to show resilience and steady growth.
The Bay Area remains a stronghold for IPOs and billion-dollar companies.
The pandemic saw many of the Bay Area’s tech companies turn to remote work and ultimately some of these companies chose to relocate their headquarters and office space out of the Bay Area. Once again, the exodus of several companies from the Bay Area sparked concern about the future of the region’s tech stronghold but these fears may be overstated. The table below lists U.S. IPOs and tech exits valued over $10 billion, which occurred over the course of the pandemic. Of these 27 companies, 15 locate their headquarters within the Bay Area. With more than half of the major stock market exits in the last three years, the region has flexed its significant tech economy strength.
While there are reasons to be concerned about the Bay Area’s economy, many of these concerns overlook the fact that despite the region losing some ground, overall, it remains the stronghold of VC and technological innovation. Many of the world’s most valuable companies remain in the region, and despite layoffs, many of these companies are still larger than they were two or three years ago. The Bay Area’s tech and innovation economy is down, but not out.