Despite all this San Francisco offers a rare luxury in today’s economy to a portion of its residents: near guaranteed employment at a prevailing wage.

When your friends from Austin or Portland or Boston start telling you about how their city is “the next Silicon Valley” (which they think means San Francisco) the polite thing to do is shake your head, congratulate them, and completely disregard their claim. You do this because you don’t want to be a dick, they have a nice city — it smells far less of urine than San Francisco — it’s great that they love it so much, but you know it will never be the next San Francisco.

Startups spread through San Francisco faster than hepatitis in the Tenderloin. Once you spend a month in one company you can, if you like, send a few emails and be making more money in a matter of days. This web of small companies, however temporary their existence might be, form a social safety net for the privileged class of developers who make the city their home.

The San Francisco Safety Net