The Intersection of Startup Metrics and San Francisco's Housing Crisis


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 15, 2023

4 min read


The Intersection of Startup Metrics and San Francisco's Housing Crisis


In the fast-paced world of startups, founders must constantly keep in mind the key metrics that drive their success. These metrics, often referred to as the AARRR framework or "Startup Metrics for Pirates," encompass Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue. However, these metrics are not isolated from the larger socio-economic issues that cities like San Francisco face. In this article, we will explore the connection between startup metrics and the housing crisis in San Francisco, shedding light on the factors that have contributed to the city's current state.

The Changing Dynamics of Urban Living:

San Francisco's housing crisis is a complex issue that has evolved over decades. The city's height limits, rent control policies, and challenging permitting process are all outcomes of various movements, such as tenant rights, environmental activism, and preservationist efforts. Additionally, shifting societal trends, such as delayed marriages and longer lifespans, have played a role in reshaping the demographics of the city. With young adults and affluent retirees gravitating towards urban cores, while immigrants and the less affluent move out, San Francisco's housing landscape has undergone significant transformations.

The Rise of Social Networking and its Impact on Cities:

Over the past decade, social networking has become a dominant force in the technology industry. Notably, many successful consumer web and mobile products gained traction by establishing critical mass in the "analog" world. Facebook leveraged university campuses, Snapchat gained popularity in Southern California high schools, Foursquare found success in Lower Manhattan, and Twitter became a phenomenon in San Francisco. These products thrive in socially dense environments, and as tech workers flock to cities like San Francisco, they have reshaped both the culture of the city and the technology industry itself.

San Francisco's Progressivism and Focus on Protection:

San Francisco is often associated with progressivism, although its core principles differ from traditional Marxist ideologies. While some detractors may label it as socialist, the city's progressivism is primarily concerned with protecting the environment, architectural heritage, neighborhoods, diversity, and overall quality of life from the disruptive forces of American capitalism. However, this protectionist approach has inadvertently contributed to the housing crisis, as stringent regulations and discretionary building permits have limited the supply of housing.

The Disparity in Housing Development:

San Francisco's housing market faces a severe disparity in housing development. Between 1990 and 2013, the city had the highest median prices per square foot and the lowest number of new construction permits per 1,000 units. The market has primarily catered to individuals with "Above Moderate" incomes, leaving a significant portion of the population struggling to find affordable housing. The lack of an elastic housing supply not only affects residents' ability to afford housing but also hampers job opportunities and economic growth.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Advocate for Housing Policy Reforms: Startup founders and tech industry leaders can use their influence to support policy changes that promote an elastic housing supply. By advocating for streamlined permitting processes and increased housing development, they can contribute to alleviating the housing crisis in cities like San Francisco.
  • 2. Foster Community Engagement: Startups should prioritize community engagement initiatives that go beyond their immediate business interests. By actively participating in community development projects and supporting affordable housing initiatives, startups can foster a more inclusive and equitable urban environment.
  • 3. Embrace Remote Work Opportunities: With the rise of remote work, startups should consider embracing distributed teams to reduce the strain on housing markets in major cities. By providing employees with the option to work remotely, companies can improve job opportunities for individuals living outside expensive urban centers.


The housing crisis in San Francisco is a multifaceted issue that intersects with the world of startups and their metrics for success. By understanding the underlying factors contributing to the crisis, startup founders can play a role in advocating for change and fostering a more sustainable and inclusive urban environment. Through actionable steps such as supporting housing policy reforms, engaging with communities, and embracing remote work opportunities, startups can contribute to the resolution of the housing crisis and create positive social impact.

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