The Flight Back from the Burbs

<p>Bay Area tech companies are increasingly opening offices in downtown San Francisco, a significant change from the development pattern of the last ten years.</p>
June 19, 2008, 1pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Autodesk software engineer Hawkeye Parker would have to drive more than 20 miles north, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, if he worked at his company's headquarters in San Rafael, Calif. Instead, 37-year-old Parker takes a seven-minute train from his home in San Francisco's bustling Mission District to the design-software maker's outpost on the city's eastern edge."

"Put simply, San Francisco residents "hate commuting," says Autodesk (ADSK) Chief Executive Carl Bass. The $2 billion-a-year company, which houses 275 of its 7,000 employees at One Market St. in San Francisco, thinks customers prefer the city to the suburbs, too."

"Autodesk is one among a raft of tech companies, including Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and newer players like professional networking Web site LinkedIn, striving for that same San Francisco symbiosis. These companies have long occupied suburbs to the south, east, and north of the city. Now they see expansion downtown as a way to attract and retain some of the brightest talent, quicken the travel time to meetings, and impress customers from around the world."

"The move also reflects a larger national trend toward urbanization that's seeing many workers in their twenties and thirties eschew suburbs for hubs like San Francisco, Boston, and Atlanta. While the overall economy is slumping, and industries like banking and auto making are cutting back on staff, tech companies are still hiring and competing for job candidates."

Thanks to Christopher Corbett

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Published on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 in BusinessWeek
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