Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oakland's Tech Industry is Growing

When billionaires like John Fisher and his front man Lew Wolff say that the A's need to move to another city, one reason they give is the East Bay's perceived lack of business and entrepreneurs. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article points out that Oakland has enjoyed a sharp upswing in new tech business. The article compares Oakland to San Francisco's South of Market area, which if you recall has a shiny new stadium to anchor it.

A quote from Joe Kennedy, CEO of Pandora, based in Oakland's Uptown neighborhood, further compares Oakland to SoMa, which in the late 1990s blossomed from a mostly industrial outpost to a bustling tech center. Like the SoMa of that era, Oakland has inexpensive office space, public transportation options, and many bars and restaurants.

All of this economic activity in Oakland is going on despite a struggling, recession-damaged national economy. The Wall Street Journal article also notes that younger talent is moving away from sterile office parks and into urban areas that are close to transit, housing, and nightlife. The article mentions that the formerly San Mateo-based Skytide, Inc. moved their operations to Oakland for this very reason.

As we have seen in other parts of the country and most noticeably across the Bay, urban entrepreneurship tends to grow together. Since March, Innovate Oakland has been hosting mixers at The Den bar, which is located in the renovated Fox Theater in Oakland. These gatherings at The Den have featured hundreds of growing tech entrepreneurs. If the A's were to stay in Oakland in a Jack London Square ballpark, then they would very close to this new downtown economic development. It would give the A's a solid foundation of young professionals filling up the nearby new stadium, continuing the solid growth of this fine city while also helping the A's.

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