Will unicorns make markets believe in them again?
At the start of 2019 it seemed as if the most valuable tech start-ups in the US — Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Pinterest, Slack, WeWork and Palantir — were on the cusp of triumphant initial public offerings (IPOs). In San Francisco, where many of these companies are based, a number of my friends became unhealthily fixated on the ways in which a new generation of IPO millionaires were about to ruin the city.
Those who had grown up in the Bay Area and remembered the tech boom of the late 1990s predicted a year of obnoxious parties, flashy yachts and even more unaffordable property prices. The landlord of my building seemed positively giddy, telling residents to enjoy living in San Francisco while we could still afford it. A tech news website called 2019 a gold rush, while national media claimed the city was at “boiling point”.