San Diego: The next Silicon Valley?

Market report hints at growth opportunities for high-tech office development

San Diego has been exporting talented software engineers to San Francisco for years for lack of big local companies to work for here.

But that may be changing as a report by the Jones Lang LaSalle commercial brokerage suggests.

Among 37 metro areas analyzed in the latest “Technology Office Outlook” report, San Diego lies in what’s called the “sweet spot” of areas with high startup opportunity and low cost.

San Francisco ranks first in terms of real estate, salary levels, and business and lifestyle conditions, while San Diego is halfway down the list at No. 18, just below Boston and Portland, Ore., and just above Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.

But a few deals suggest that San Diego is holding its own, and while it may never equal Silicon Valley’s size and power, it may outpace Los Angeles’ “Silicon Beach” where companies complain of endless traffic snarls.

(A reminder to LA boosters: The term actually originated in San Diego in 1984 with the founding of Silicon Beach Software, now owned by Adobe Systems.)

Fitbit, the San Francisco manufacturer of wearable fitness devices, is making final plans to move to a newly established, 17,000-square-foot research-and-development office in Rancho Bernardo. Not only does the company capitalize on San Diego’s outdoors sports reputation but it also plugs into San Diego’s computer science and software talent.

“San Diego is a recognized center of engineering excellence,” a Fitbit spokeswoman said. “We’re looking to build out a large presence and expand our team, with the goal of replicating our culture and mission to make the world a healthier, more active place.”

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