Wednesday, April 18, 2012

S.F. tech boom triggers concern about another bust

"It certainly feels like 1999 in San Francisco.

"Young tech workers are once again packing the restaurants, apartments and office spaces, pushing up rents across the city and triggering a new wave of development. SoMa is a hotbed of tech activity, with deals getting done over crepes at the Creamery or lattes at Blue Bottle, and accelerators and shared work spaces seemingly popping up every other block.

"San Francisco leaders have gotten tech religion, looking to the industry as job creators, campaign supporters and the city's next generation of corporate benefactors. And just last week, Facebook snapped up Instagram, a San Francisco photo-sharing app with no revenue to speak of, for a cool $1 billion.

"These shades of 1999 inevitably recall the shadows of 2001, when the swelling young industry deflated virtually overnight, emptying out buildings, halting development and sending those hotshot dot-commers back to their parents' homes.

"So it's worth asking: Are we headed down this painful path again?..."

There's ample reason for caution, but no obvious need to panic - not yet, anyway.

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