What Each Tech City is Known For: San Francisco

Above image from CNBC.

Introducing part one of a three-part series on what some of the most prominent tech cities in the United States are known for. This week, we are going to be looking at San Francisco with the help of two inspiring tech women.

According to the Computing Technology Industry Association, San Francisco added more tech jobs than any other city over the past year, making it a desirable place to live and work for those interested in tech (SF Chronicle). This growth is largely focused in the bay area and has out done cities much greater in size such as New York City and L.A. as far as job growth in technology. San Francisco and Silicon Valley, located in the southern part of the San Francisco bay area, have become famous over the years for housing the headquarters of some of the largest technology companies in the country such as Uber, Adobe, and Salesforce, to name a few. It is clear that technology and San Francisco go hand-in-hand; however, it is difficult to understand completely the in’s and out’s of a city without speaking with some residents who are involved in the tech world. So, we did just that.

Above image from Tech Crunch.

The first woman in tech we spoke with was Alison Mountford. Alison was able to give us an interesting perspective on the tech world since her initial background was not in technology but in culinary. After some work in the food delivery business, she has started her own company known as Ends+Stems. Ends+Stems’ goal is to dramatically reduce household food waste. They do this by curating recipes specifically for you every week and generating a shopping list for these recipes. They even have a recipe finder where you enter in the food that you want to use or get ride of, and a list of recipes appears that you can choose from. After hearing Alison’s background in the tech and food world, we asked for her insights.

What do you think San Francisco is known for in regards to tech? 

Alison believes that San Francisco is known for industry disruption and raising venture capital. A large focus of the tech start-ups in San Francisco is to disrupt a current market by creating a product or service that creates a new market, think Uber. If their new innovation succeeds, they would be able to generate large profits and grow exceptionally fast. If this were to occur, venture capitalist funds or firms may invest in the start-ups which would assist in their continual, hopeful, growth. This is often the goal of tech start-ups as they are able to generate large amounts of money and get attention from the press. To Alison, she sees the benefits of this mindset but also the flaws. “I like the idea of doing things in a new way but there is far greater benefit from being disruptive yet thoughtful.” What she means by this is being aware of the environment and of the jobs of the industry that you are trying to disrupt. Plenty of companies are able to do this and it has not hindered their success, says Alison, such as Patagonia and Who Gives a Crap. 

Above image from ZD Net.

The second woman we talked with was Devon Langston. Devon has had a heavy involvement in the tech world ever since she started at one of the most well-known tech companies, Uber. Devon worked as the Sr. Community Operation Manager for Uber in Chicago for some years before moving to San Francisco with Uber to become the Sr. Strategy and Planning Associate. Now, she remains in San Francisco and in the technology industry as she works as a Program Manager for Zoox Inc. Zoox Inc. is in the works of developing the first fully autonomous vehicle. With Devon’s experience in the technology, we knew her insights would be helpful.

What do you think San Francisco is known for in regards to tech? 

Devon believes San Francisco is known for eco-friendly products, mobility advancements, and big ideas. One of the most redeeming qualities about San Francisco is its focus on the environment. The city is incredibly green and focus on this is essential to starting a tech start-up or developing a new product. Devon says, “It is essential to have a green focus if you want to get off in San Francisco, whether that be by reducing your waste and emissions or making your products out of recycled materials.” Devon has also seen the importance of the mobility and transportation industry in the tech world. Companies like Uber have disturbed the transportation industry, but there is now a focus on the mobility of products through ideas such as autonomous trucking and trucking apps. Finally, Devon has seen the often times obscured focus of the people in the tech world in San Francisco. Many of the ideas do not fill a specific need or want and the goal is often the money rather than the benefit it will bring to its consumers. Devon believes that more people should be focused on solving world problems rather than creating apps that serve little use in the long run. She hopes this focus will shift to more helpful solutions.

By taking a look into prominent tech cities such as San Francisco, we can all learn more about the industry that we care about. Thank you to Alison Mountford and Devon Langston for all of their insights. Stay tuned for part two where we will look into another great tech city, Chicago, IL. To find out more about Dresscode and our mission, visit Dresscode Tech.

Written by Emma Kuszynski – Dresscode Email and Blog Content Intern 7/2/2019.

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