When the bulk of a city’s wealth lies in the hands of a similarly specific group of people, something similar happens. Just as East Coast bankers have established their own signals and codes about which brands signify status and which don’t, so, too, has the tech world, which is often ruled by what one tech employee described to me as “this postmodern desire to define ourselves by our possessions.” The Levis Strausses of California’s contemporary gold rush are companies like the luxury denim brand Earnest Sewn, which is well-known for being a favorite of Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey. Another is Betabrand, a Mission District-based online clothing retailer that sells products like “dress pants sweatpants” (a sort of San Francisco analogue to pajama jeans) and “bike to work pants” (which boast “cuffs that roll up to reveal super-bright reflective material”) for upwards of $100 each. A third is Cubify, one of many companies that manufactures that tech-world toy of the moment, the 3D printer, and whose products retail for more (and sometimes much, much more) than $1,000 apiece, materials cost not included.
The restaurant world, too, has been indelibly changed by the influx of young men with money into the urban Bay Area. “In terms of what I see, the esoteric knowledge of craftstmanship is really happening on the food side,” said Dwight Crow, product manager at Facebook (and erstwhile cast-member of Hollywood’s attempt to cash in on the fascination with tech culture, Bravo TV’s now-canceled “Startups: Silicon Valley”). Dorsey famously invested in Sightglass, the SoMa purveyor of third-wave coffee that’s swiftly become the kind of place where conversations about angel investment and iteration abound. Overlay a map of San Francisco’s hottest dining corridors over one of the tech shuttle stops and you’ll see a huge amount of correlation.