• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

What do the massive layoffs in the tech industry mean for the future of the middle market?

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Nov 10, 2022


Now with Elon Musk lays off about 50% of Twitter staff – in the same way other major layoffs at Bay Area tech companies and beyond — the future of the mid-market is uncertain.

The Twitter Building in San Francisco on November 7, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

“Well, it’s definitely a net negative when our fastest growing industry starts laying off,” Kim said. “That being said, I don’t think we need to ring the alarm bells. And I don’t think any of us ever thought that the incredible boom we saw between 2012 and 2020 would continue indefinitely. There was always the feeling that a market correction was brewing, and it certainly is the market correction.

“I think the question is how big will this recession be and how big will the impacts of the layoffs be here in San Francisco?”

Despite a series of concerns about Twitter’s new direction and the future of the district, current District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey sees upside in Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and what it means for the middle market.

“I know there are a lot of big global issues around Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, what it’s going to mean for public debate and for democracy,” Dorsey said. “It’s concerning any time there’s some kind of layoff, let alone a massive layoff like this, where we’re talking about 784 employees in a San Francisco office.”

a sign indicating
A sign for an apartment building across from the Twitter Building on Market Street in San Francisco on November 7, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

“But there’s also a neighborhood here, and we want people to come back to work because we want small businesses to thrive,” he said. “So there is, I think, a silver lining to the bad news about the mass layoffs, because Elon Musk has made it clear that he wants Twitter employees back in the office.”

Others believe a completely new approach is needed for the middle market – one less reliant on tech companies and the traditional 9-to-5 work crowd.

“I think the model we really need to move towards is having a much more mixed-use downtown,” said Honey Mahogany, who is running against Dorsey for District 6 supervisor. (Since Wednesday after- midday, Dorsey trailed by around 1,400 points.) “I think if we make downtown more residential mixed-use with offices and also nightlife and arts and culture and all the things that make South Market so special, it will create a thriving neighborhood that actually supports the businesses that are out there – not just 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but seven days a week.”

an office building with a sign saying it is available for sale
A building available for rent on Market Street in the mid-market district of San Francisco on November 9, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Two closely affiliated organizations – the Mid-Market Business Association and the Mid-Market Foundation – have sought to revitalize and transform the region, beginning with a focus on security. A pilot program of safety ambassadors aims to make the region attractive not only economically, but also socially and artistically, said Steve Gibson, executive director of the MMBA and MMF, by transforming it into a vibrant and multifaceted community where people live, work and play.

“Right now, we have 40% vacancy in storefronts, and that’s bad,” Gibson said. “But it’s also a lot of opportunities to set up new activities and new companies. We just received a $50,000 grant from the city to work on this. We look at the highlights of Market, which has always had a strong arts presence. We weave that more into the fabric and attract more of those businesses and elements. We believe Market is going to be a place you engage in.

a man wearing sunglasses is walking on a city street
Steve Gibson, executive director of the Mid-Market Business Association and the Mid-Market Foundation, walks on Market Street in San Francisco’s midtown district on November 9, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Gibson plans to address the current high levels of storefront vacancy with more restaurants, music and art businesses.

“We have to do it differently than what has been done before. You have to think outside the box when it comes to the middle market,” Gibson said. “There needs to be a lot more creativity and imagination, and we need to think about how [mid-Market] going to be different from Union Square, different from downtown. The offer must be unique to entice people to spend time in the mid-market. »

If Honey Mahogany is elected supervisor, her vision could complement Gibson’s and the work that the MMBA and MMF are doing.

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