Data Scientist Bets on SF Bay Area for Amazon HQ2

Nov 02, 2017

Kelly Kline

Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

The quest to win Amazon’s second headquarters has been eventful, to say the least. From offering big tax breaks to presenting a 21-foot cactus to Jeff Bezos, cities across North America have been courting Amazon with the hopes of convincing the retail tech giant to extend its empire there.

The City of Fremont has teamed up with the “Northern Arc” cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and Concord – to propose our own San Francisco Bay Area bid. We’re proud that our contingency is aligned in a “no-subsidy” approach. We believe that the Bay Area’s talent speaks for itself without having to offer extra incentives like tax breaks (or cacti).

Now the question on everyone’s lips is: Which city will Amazon choose?

Well, if data scientist Shawn Berry were a betting man, he’d place his money on the Bay Area — and he’s got the numbers to back it up. Berry carefully studied Amazon’s data, the data found in two leading cities’ bids for HQ2 (Boston and San Francisco), and other published data to determine which city would come out on top.

First things first. What exactly is Amazon looking for? Top-notch IT talent, especially software engineers, whose numbers have been maxed out in the Seattle market.

Of course, Silicon Valley has one of the highest concentrations of leading tech companies in the world and thousands of high-skilled workers. San Francisco proper has 2,800 tech companies employing 90,000 people. And Fremont is making room for its tech companies to expand. Berry noted that the Fremont City Council unanimously agreed to allow Tesla to double the size of its factory.

Berry also calls attention to what he refers to as “the most eye-opening aspect of the San Francisco Bay Area HQ2 bid” — 42, the coding school in Fremont that teaches young people to program in C and other languages; better yet, 42 is free of charge to 10,000 people aged 18 to 30. What it symbolizes to Amazon is an even deeper talent pool.

We also have world-class universities like Stanford and UC Berkeley in our neck of the woods. These two universities alone have produced entrepreneurs receiving $9.5 billion in venture funding that helped to found more than 850 companies since 2009.

The Bay Area tops the rankings in almost every category related to talent. San Francisco’s labor market ranks first for its demonstrated capacity to perform for Amazon (i.e., Software Developer, Data Scientist, etc.). San Francisco also ranks first in North America at adding tech jobs. And according to Berry’s analysis of MIT Tech Review data, San Francisco is the most entrepreneurial IT market in North America by far. To top it off, the San Francisco Bay Area benefits from as much brain gain as the next four North American cities combined.

The numbers speak for themselves. Practically all data points to choosing the San Francisco Bay Area for HQ2. And, regardless of the outcome, the process has been a boost — a regional boost for collaboration, and a local boost for the Warm Springs Innovation District, which has 7.3 million square feet of employment opportunity.

To check out Shawn Berry’s full analysis, visit https://appliedmathematician.com/.




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Welcome to our blog – Takes from Silicon Valley East! Our view is slightly different here on the east side of the bay – from the Mission Peak backdrop to the advanced manufacturing companies that dot our boulevards. As we become more urban and strive to interpret the business issues affecting our innovation economy, we want to share with you our observations, insights, photos, arguments, agreements, inspirations and CEO interviews – and here on our blog is exactly where we plan to do this.

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