A Message about the 2024 Index

Dear Friends:

Silicon Valley is in the throes of an adjustment.

It’s happened before. In fact, it happens with regularity. In the current case, the tech sector is recalibrating after some brisk hiring during the pandemic. Previously carefree, efficiency has become the new watchword. Venture capital is posting numbers that are half what they were, with renewed rigor replacing the FOMO frenzy of the past three years.

We may not be booming, but we’re still growing. When you take the long view, venture capital is right where it has been for the past decade ($30 billion), and we continue to have the nation’s highest shares (34 percent). Our driving industries are shrinking in some places, but growing in others as the economy pivots into green energy, clean technology and artificial intelligence. If AI is your barometer of success, then Silicon Valley clearly has a leg up on the competition, with a 220% year-over-year rise in VC dollars, more start-up activity, more institutional investing, and by far the most research. We’re generating more patents (19,500) than any other place in the nation.

Even our ballyhooed population drain has reversed itself (with a net increase of 11,300 new residents over the last reporting period).

It seems the best way to understand Silicon Valley right now is the same way we always have: we’re a region built on creative destruction and re-invention. This time, however, our reinventing must extend into the civic arena as well, as we address the permanent changes brought about by remote work, take up the possibility of converting vacant commercial space into housing, and find new approaches to our downtowns.

What remains fixed are the region’s staggering wealth and income gaps, our inability to provide affordable housing, and persistent health, education and income disparities by race. Our income divide has grown twice as quickly as the state and nation over the past decade, and many are startled to learn that nearly one third of our households live below the sufficiency standards. 40 percent of Silicon Valley’s children live in income-inadequate households.

An increased supply of affordable housing would go such a long way in addressing our biggest challenges. Unfortunately, 2023 marked an overall slowdown in residential approvals (52 percent fewer than in 2022). In a completely related development, our homeless population swelled to more than 10,500.

Is our fabled dynamism in tech the most promising pathway for addressing our equity challenges? Not yet. Hispanic or Latino workers represent less than 10 percent of the headcount in the 20 largest tech companies. The share of Black or African American workers is even less (6 percent).

Silicon Valley will remain a world capital for innovation and entrepreneurship. Can we be just as innovative when addressing our social challenges? It is the most important question we face.

Sincerely,

Russell Hancock

Russell Hancock
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

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Joint Venture produces and provides supporting documents and research for a wide array of Silicon Valley interests. We also help to support our initiatives through the publication of the annual Silicon Valley Index and a variety of other periodic reports and white papers.

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The site is maintained and constantly updated by Joint Venture's Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, and is a robust collection of charts and information with links to local, regional, and national data sources, as well as additional related online resources within the following categories: People, Economy, Society, Place, and Governance. There are also metrics presented through an equity lens.