Several of the top cryptocurrency companies have recently been looking at the prospect of moving their bases of operations as California - the tech capital of the world - has been dealing with a wave of crime and harassment.
With San Francisco becoming especially dangerous, it appears that the Golden City is finally losing its shine with tech entrepreneurs.
Kraken Packs It Up
Earlier this month, Kraken - one of the largest crypto exchanges in the United States - announced that it would shut its global headquarters at 548 Market Street, located in the heart of San Francisco. In an official statement, Kraken chief executive Jesse Powell explained that the decision was due to safety concerns as numerous company employees had reported being harassed and robbed on their way to and from the company’s office.
In his statement, Powell explained that San Francisco has seen a massive increase in social vices. From crime to drug addiction and more, the city has also had a nasty habit of reporting these vices - primarily due to fears that it might damage its already hampered reputation even further. With Kraken’s leadership focused on maintaining the safety of all team members, the company has seen no other option than to close its offices.
A company spokesperson added to reporters that the closure is indefinite, with Powell adding in his statement that they don’t believe San Francisco will be a safe place to work until the city’s leadership and District Attorney (DA) get more serious about their jobs.
For now, the company doesn’t have any plans to re-establish its global headquarters anywhere. They will look towards improving their remote work policy, ensuring that they can effectively keep carrying out their services while also maintaining personal safety.
Did Coinbase See It Coming?
Kraken isn't the only crypto exchange to be taking such drastic steps. In May 2021, Coinbase - America’s largest exchange - announced that it would also close its San Francisco offices as the company was looking to become a globally decentralized and remote-first organization.
Coinbase’s decision to leave San Francisco seemed to have been driven by its desire to be remote and decentralized - not necessarily due to the crime wave. The company claimed at the time that over half of its employees joined at a time when they had to work remotely. So, they believed it was better for them to maintain that and not have an official headquarters anymore.
But, even Coinbase’s employees must have seen the crime wave and taken preemptive action.
Homelessness As The Trigger
The exodus of Kraken will be another blow to San Francisco, which has built a stellar reputation for being a technological hub for decades. In recent times, the city has fallen into disrepair as crime, and other significant human vices have been more than rampant.
It also doesn’t help that the city is dealing with a massive wave of homelessness. San Francisco has always had a rent problem, and things have soared beyond imagination. The average rent in the Golden City stands at about $3,000 a month, and a report from the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that there are about 18,000 homeless people in the city right now.
The homelessness issue appears to be the driver of the other vices. More homeless people on the streets means crime will go up, and the city won’t be able to find any solutions until this problem is addressed.
Already, there are social media posts and forums on Reddit dedicated to exposing the extent to which San Francisco has become unsafe.
One Redditor wrote: “The people who do service and minimum wage work are getting pushed out due to rising rent and inflation. This leaves them to either move out, leaving those jobs empty or turn to crime/other jobs. It's a tale as old as time. Lower citizen purchasing power almost always leads to an increase in crime.”
It is pretty clear that San Francisco’s government will need to do better if it hopes to improve the living conditions of its citizens. With inflation expected to increase and the global economy already teetering, this might not be the best time for the city to be battling a crime wave. Addressing the homelessness issue will be key to rebuilding, and the government will also need to build a better framework for dealing with crime.