Silicon Valley's Faux-Exodus (And The Case For Nevada)

Ed Zitron 5 min read

You’ve probably read that Rick and Morty Guy Elon Musk is moving to Texas, and Investor/Professional Mad Guy on Twitter Keith Rabois is moving to Miami and now HP’s Enterprise division is moving to Texas.

To quote Rabois:

"I think San Francisco is just so massively improperly run and managed that it's impossible to stay here," Rabois said. He believes he is not alone in giving up on the Bay Area, a place he has called home for two decades. He cited anecdotal evidence about many people in his social circles leaving, and noted, "COVID sort of masks this stuff. It's not quite as obvious where people are moving to and if they've actually moved since everybody's working remotely."

In my mind, Rabois has a point in that a lot of these moves (my own included) were somewhat masked (ha!) by COVID - it doesn’t really matter if the person you’re talking to is calling from Paris, or the moon, or your own bathroom, the magic of this whole “internet” thing is that you can get everything done via Zoom or Microsoft Teams or whatever. And I think that the pandemic has forced everybody to do a giant, multi-million person experiment as to whether this can actually work - can shit actually get done? Do we need to be around everyone to do so? Or was that just assumed to be the best way? Was it the best way? What do we gain in person? What do we lose?

The truth is that a lot of us lost jack shit. I don’t really talk about this publicly much because I think there’s an assumption that if you don’t have an office, you’re not a real company, but we’ve always been remote. I’ve been running this company remote the entire time. I had an office space in San Francisco for a while, but I even dropped that because of the pandemic. I was thinking about keeping an address in San Francisco just for conference rooms, but realize I can just…rent a conference room when I need one, when people go back.

There has always been this only somewhat rational fear in my head that if I didn’t declare a bay area space I’d fall behind - that clients would not hire someone who wasn’t bay area based, that business would not grow unless I was in the bay. The truth is that being in the bay didn’t help, and not being in the bay didn’t hurt.  Turns out I have always been able to do this job remotely, and my people have always been able to work with me remotely and get stuff done.

I dunno if we’ll ever have a physical office again, but then again, we’ve never really had one to begin with. Hell, I know we’ve taken business from agencies with big fancy offices and done better work totally remote, many times over. It’s just confusing to me that anyone (especially in PR) is thinking about going back to an office. There’s no reason to have one. Meet up every week at a restaurant, same god damn difference.

The Thing About Humidity

What confuses me about all of these people moving to Texas and Florida is that Nevada is right there. It is quite literally next to California, with the same lack of state income tax, and I assume people are scared to move there because it’s…right there, and they assume that the Franchise Tax Board will hop over the state line and eat them. Which will happen to people who continually go back to California, who do work constantly in California, who are basically in California but claim they live in Nevada despite all their shit being in California. Maybe it’s too tempting? I don’t know.

It also makes no sense to me because it seems the easiest place to attract people who live in California. The brain drain that these companies will face by moving to the South would be significantly eased if they moved to Nevada. People can (once the pandemic is over) fly to visit family and friends, and shit, if you’re a company paying someone a California salary to move them to Las Vegas, give them a travel stipend to visit friends and family. If you’re trying to compete to get engineering talent, they’re already expensive. And they’ll make more money living in Nevada.

The thing that makes me laugh is that I assume a lot of people move to Texas or Florida because Nevada “gets too hot.” What’s very, very funny about that - what will tickle me pink next year - is how a lot of these people are buying their ten gallon hats and moving to the South and are going to face the brutal, unrelenting humidity that comes with it. I lived in North Carolina for years, and I can tell you, now having lived through my first Las Vegas summer, that these people are going to suffer.

Bay area summers are nice, but they’re also humid. A lot of homes lack air conditioning, which makes things worse. But your average summer temperatures ping pong around the 65-75 range, and that’s bearable, even with an abominable average humidity of 75%.

Now, imagine you’ve moved to Miami, say, in November. You’re looking at an average high of 82, and a low of 69. That’s beautiful. Hell, you can deal with the humidity in the high 70%s. That’s fine. You’re laughing at all your big idiot moron friends who stayed in the bay, freezing at 55 degrees while you bask in beautiful sunshine. Or maybe you’re in Austin, where it’s currently 70 degrees and sunny with only 26% humidity. How did you ever live in San Francisco?

Fast forward to July. It’s 93 degrees out, and the humidity is 80%. Your entire body is covered in sweat. It stinks. You don’t want to be outside. Why is it so god damn hot? Why did you move here? Or perhaps you’re in Miami, where the humidity bounces between 60% and 80%, and barely drops below 80 degrees? Why did you move here? It’s so god damn hot, and the heat feels so god damn heavy! Why? Why? WHY?

Now, Las Vegas is hot during the summer. Don’t get me wrong. It starts getting hot about April, and only cools in November. June through the end of August is a little spicier - over 100 degrees pretty much all day - but we don’t have the nightmare humidity of the south. 100 degrees with basically no humidity feels significantly better than 80 degrees with 65%+ humidity, and I tell you, your average bay area person that’s never faced regular, oppressive heat matched with weigh-you-down humidity is going to screech. They are never going to feel cooled down. They are going to feel nasty and sweaty, all without the joy of actually cooling down.

Yes, Vegas is hot during the summer. But you cool down fast, and there’s shade everywhere, and the heat doesn’t follow you and burrow into your skin like an angry mole.

It’s going to be really funny.

I am rooting for anyone who moves out of the bay, simply because I have moved a lot and I think moving from somewhere to somewhere else to feel happier is a good thing, even if you’re moving to the bay. I just think that one of the crucial things you need to do when you move to the South is be aware of how The Southern Summer (TM) feels. And man, if you are not ready for it…you are going to feel it.

That’s been humidity watch with your friend Ed. Thank you.

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