Renting spacious homes in Miami. Avoiding a state income tax in Austin. Escaping high rent and crime and filth on the streets of San Francisco.

A highly publicized flight of tech companies, executives and workers has painted a one-sided media narrative that virtual work has made San Francisco unappealing for tech.

The New York Times reinforced the narrative earlier this month in a litany of criticisms from tech workers and executives lambasting the city and contending that the industry is better off elsewhere. And it culminated this week with a report on a survey of 83 companies showing 63 percent planned to downsize in San Francisco. (It’s never clear from the report how firm those plans are or if the survey documenting the threats of 83 companies is just a way for to lobby for more housing and an end to new taxes.)  

But there’s little doubt that at least some tech workers have moved on. 

“To be clear-eyed about it, San Francisco is the worst it’s ever been this year,” said Jon Cowperthwait, a software marketer renting in the Mission, reflecting on how the pandemic-stricken economy has worsened the mental health, homelessness and housing crises. “But … it never made me want to leave town because it’s a problem in our town. It’s our problem.”