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After the Goldrush

October 8, 2004

The results of a study by the Sphere Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan California think tank,(as reported in today’s WSJ) aren’t totally novel – but they still got us to thinking about the good ole days.
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“More than half of the people working at technology companies in California in early 2000 had left the technology field or the state by the end of 2003, and more than 40% experienced declining incomes over that period, according to a study on the impact of the tech bust,” reports the WSJ. No big surprise here, but still an interesting reminder of a moment in Internet time.
Circa 2000, the a:c’s edit squad used to take the occasional lunch at San Francisco’s South Park, the epicenter of dot-com chic. Here, we’d observe information architects, Flash programmers (back when that meant something), and newly-minted MBA’s lounging about on verdant stretches, pecking away at their handhelds and dreaming of a bright tomorrow. We’d have to wait in line for 20 minutes just to get our overpriced panini.
But the whole thing was illusory. When the market began to tank, you could feel these people leaking out of the Bay Area like air from a balloon. The hissing sound was created by people who had no interest in technology or the Internet to begin with. According to Michael Dardia, a VP at Sphere and primary author of the study, “A lot of people came in from outside the state and nontech industries, participated in the boom, and then went back whence they came.”
Again, there’s nothing novel in these findings, but we look back with some fondness on the absurdity of that period – and we are reminded just how much we now relish our more moderately priced panini.
Read: Toll of Tech Bust in California Has Been Severe, Survey Shows – [WSJ – reg. req.]

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