The Mission is Heating Up

The Mission

San Francisco's Mission District

It’s been awhile since I last blogged, but I finally unpacked my last box from my cross-country move so I’ll now be able to prioritize writing here again. Don’t worry, my monthly intake of It’s-It ice cream sandwiches still roughly matches the monthly unique visitors to this site, but for the loyal few who actually read this stuff, you’re about to get a whole lot more material to help end your insomnia.

Anyway, lots has changed with me over the past few months. New job, new schedule, new city. It’s great. I also found an apartment in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco which I liked when I moved in, but am appreciating more and more every day.

I decided to live here because the neighborhood felt like an interesting mix of New York’s Lower East Side and Spanish Harlem, but in a much better geographic location (it also didn’t hurt there’s easy access to the freeway I take to work). It’s certainly residential, but there are also scores of restaurants, shops, and other amenities that I had grown accustomed to after eight years in the Big Apple. Some call this part of town “seedy,” but I prefer my next door neighbor’s description of “gritty.”

What I didn’t expect to find in the Mission is a thriving technology entrepreneurial scene. Southern Silicon Valley (about 30 miles south of San Francisco and home to Google, Yahoo, Facebook and many others) has long been a hotbed for innovation. However, workspaces there tend to be office parks instead of airy lofts, and there isn’t exactly much going on in terms of night life for the budding entrepreneur. Consequently, a decade or so ago more and more startups began settling in the SoMa (short for “south of Market Street”) part of San Francisco. Real estate there was cheap and living in the city was exceedingly more attractive for most younger people. The city was also making a concerted effort to bring commerce to that part of town through the building of a new baseball stadium (Go Giants!), and construction of affordable housing for teachers and other civil servants.

Although SoMa is arguably still the center of San Francisco’s tech scene, the Mission is really heating up. What’s attractive to startups is that the Mission has many dynamics not found anywhere else in the Bay Area: true mixed use real estate, diverse socio-economic groups, and high population density (not to mention awesome burritos). SoMa has also gotten pretty pricey so it’s typically less expensive to rent office space in the Mission too. In concert, these factors make the Mission far more fertile than other parts of San Francisco if you’re building a mobile app or other consumer-facing product.

And don’t just take my word for it… i/o Ventures runs their incubator here, Yardsale (a YCombinator peer-to-peer community application used the Mission as its testing ground), Blockboard (a Battery Ventures portfolio company) is in beta on Valencia Street, and even other VCs like my friend Sarah Tavel from Bessemer call the Mission home.

I really like it here.  Let me know if you’re in the neighborhood; I’d love to show you around.

  • Edward Martin

    I like that you filed this in your ‘Investments’ section of the blog. Picking a neighborhood is an investment… and picking the Mission is an investment in burritos.