San Francisco

Pittsburgh-Based Company Urges Bay Area Tech Workers to Relocate

Have you seen it?

A sign posted in San Francisco is attempting to entice tech workers to pack their bags, ditch the high-priced Bay Area and move across the country to Pittsburgh. 

Silicon Valley has long been considered the hub of business and opportunity, especially for tech. However, as the cost of living in Silicon Valley continues to rise, tech companies in other parts of the country are getting more aggressive in pitching workers to move to their cities for a better quality of life.

The green sign, which is located off of Highway 101 near the Mission and South of Market districts, reads, "Own a home. Work in tech. Move to Pittsburgh."

Pittsburgh-based Duolingo stated that it has received about 50 calls since putting up the sign, this may not come as a surprise to many given the cost of living in the Bay Area.

According to Zillow, the median home value in San Francisco has gone up 10.8 percent in the last year, and now stands at $1.29 million. Likewise, In San Jose, the median home value has increased 23.9 percent, and now stands at $1.1 million.

Tech companies in other cities are beginning to use these facts as self-promotion. The Duolingo ad touted that, in Pittsburgh, you can both “work in tech” and “own a home,” boasting the fact that according to Zillow, the median home value in Pittsburgh is $132,400, astoundingly less than that in the Bay Area.

Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn told VentureBeat that the company was prompted to put up the ad after realizing that most of its Pittsburgh employees who relocated to the city cited the low cost of housing as one of the deciding factors.

He added that 85 percent of the company’s Pittsburgh-based employees moved to the city from somewhere else. The company has 110 employees, the majority of whom work out of Pittsburgh.

“One [employee] who recently joined Duolingo moved from the Bay Area and ended up buying a house almost immediately,” von Ahn said. “He said he never would have been able to do that before, but here in Pittsburgh, he found a reasonably priced home on a large plot of land and jumped on the opportunity to be a homeowner and have a huge yard for his dog.”

Duolingo’s actions are no longer rare. In October, Andrew Rasiej, founder of a New York nonprofit called Civic Hall, also bought a billboard along US 101, encouraging tech workers to check out a website called "We want you in NYC."

Statistically, there is some proof that these ads may be achieving success. In 2016 and 2017, more people moved out of the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area than moved in.

A spokesperson for Duolingo said that the ad is set to be displayed for one month.

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