San Francisco doesn't care about the stock market

I found myself in San Francisco this week during the market selloff. The fact that the Dow (^DJI) was down 800 points on a single day seemed like an afterthought. I still haven’t heard anything about an inverted yield curve out here.

It’s not to say that people in San Francisco don’t care about stocks or the economy. They do. They care deeply about their own options and RSUs and how their employer is doing.

A banker who works closely with many tech companies told me, “They don’t know about the stock market. They don’t understand the stock market. They just care about one stock.”

It’s not exactly fair to say that the average tech employee only cares about one stock, but let’s call it three. They’ve worked at one or two companies and maybe their partner works somewhere else so a handful of stocks drive their daydreaming, decisions and morale. With options making up a considerable chunk of a tech employee’s compensation, it’s no surprise employees so closely track a company stock price, but it can be a distraction.

One tech COO told me, “People are doing math in their head. Can they buy a house? Can they send a kid to college?”

Another tech employee told me engineers can be found with the stock price in one window and Zillow (Z) in another on their monitor.

It really is a market of stocks, not a stock market. And maybe there’s no where that’s more true than in San Francisco where I’ve heard plenty about Slack (WORK), Uber (UBER) and Pinterest (PINS) and nothing about the S&P going back to 3,000.


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