I left Silicon Valley and I don’t regret it

  • Maricris Bonzo is a 28 year old software developer working on web3 communities.
  • She left Silicon Valley for Santa Cruz and then Sacramento.
  • While cities call themselves new tech hubs, they still have a long way to go.

This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with Maricris Bonzo, a 28-year-old developer from the Bay Area, about moving to a post-pandemic tech hub. It has been edited for length and clarity.

It never felt like there was a big tech scene in Santa Cruz. Developers and engineers would rather be across the hill in San Jose, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale.

Before the pandemic, my fiancé and I had moved to San Jose. A lovely Vietnamese family was renting a room in their house for $300 per month, which was an amazing deal when I started out as a software engineer.

But during Covid, students leaving Santa Cruz meant we could afford to rent there again with our salaries combined, so we came back. It was totally luxurious; the icing on the cake of our lives.

While I had lived in the area while attending college from 2012 to 2016, the people of Santa Cruz weren’t too happy when people from Silicon Valley started moving in during the pandemic.

I once saw graffiti on a trash can in WestCliff that said ‘Silicon Valley ppl go home’. Many tourists who come from above don’t respect the land or the beaches, and leave trash everywhere, which the locals don’t like at all. Due to Covid, we mostly stayed alone in our apartment, but there may be tensions in other places as well.

Now that things are back to normal and workers in Silicon Valley can work remotely from time to time, gentrification has really taken hold – there’s only one person in our apartment complex who has could afford to stay.

A lovely older couple who had been in the building for over 20 years had to move; many people headed to Watsonville, a more affordable neighborhood in Santa Cruz. In the two years we were there, our base rent went from $3,000 excluding utilities to $4,045. In those days, gas, restaurants, groceries, and everything else you can imagine just went crazy: all of a sudden an iced latte was $9.

Housing problems have gone wild, intensified by Silicon Valley employees who can now live close enough to San Francisco to commute to the office a few times a week, without paying to be there all the time. Santa Cruz is now only affordable for tech workers.


View of Maricris Bonzo from his home in Santa Cruz.

Maricris Bonzo

Despite all the talk about Sacramento’s burgeoning tech community, I found the reality quite different.

When I left my job four months ago to devote myself full-time to Women in Web3, the community I co-founded for aspiring women entrepreneurs, my fiancé and I were also put at a price, because we didn’t only had one salary between us.

So we decided to move to Sacramento, where I had spent much of my childhood.

Since Covid, it has been widely reported as one of the biggest hubs of new technology, with the exodus from Silicon Valley making it the fifth most emigrated city to the United States in 2020.

Despite all the talk about Sacramento’s burgeoning tech community, I found the reality quite different.

I was surprised by my difficulty in connecting with people in the community.

In San Jose, Web3 events are much less accessible, and I have a lot of tech friends who live there. But I posted several shoutouts on Twitter and searched for events on Web3 or NFT on Eventbrite and MeetUp to connect with like-minded people, and found nothing.

Everything seems to be happening in the Bay Area.

I think that says a lot about Sacramento’s lag when it comes to web3, which I feel compelled to improve.

Our profession means we spend a lot of time in the metaverse, and I love that. But people in the industry – myself included – are so engrossed in our online lives. I wonder if that’s why it’s been hard to make solid friends in the Sacramento tech community.

Maricris Bonzo in the metaverse

Maricris Bonzo alongside the NFT avatars of the metaverse.

Maricris Bonzo

We still don’t need a central location for all the technological innovations to happen.

I hope it gets better, and ultimately, the Silicon Valley split is an amazing thing.

We don’t need to have a central location for all technological innovation to happen, and people moving to smaller cities is a big step towards embracing a more decentralized culture.

I hope that my company, which has eight co-founders, can also contribute.

Our vision is to become the go-to cohort of underrepresented women entrepreneurs in the web3; we want to rewrite the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem which is riddled with patriarchal systems and powerful actors who only seem to prioritize competition, short-term gain or influence, rather than consciously and purposefully building significant.

For me, the next step is to connect the online experiences of women in my community with the real world.

Once that happens, I think I’ll feel even more like I’m living in a thriving tech hub.

About Dwaine Pinson

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