A few weeks ago San Francisco Business times first reported that Twitter is looking for a bigger office and is considering to move to the former walmart.com building in Brisbane. This set off some panic reaction in the city to try to "OMG we have to keep Twitter in San Francisco!!!" They are so afraid to lose an iconic native San Francisco company that they are rumored to give Twitter what else but a tax break.
I think it is a really bad idea to give a particular company tax break just because they blackmail to move out. But first of all, Twitter cannot be serious about moving to Brisbane. The office is isolated. Transit is limited and the location is too far for daily biking. Even Caltrain is closing their South San Francisco station, reduce the transit option to nearly nil. If they move, San Francisco recruiters will spare no time to poach for disgruntled employees, easily bringing them back to the burgeoning tech scene in SOMA. The prospect of this move is so remote that I think San Francisco Business Times and some leaders really jumped the gun on this.
But the report from San Francisco Chronicle today about a possible tax break plan to lure Twitter to Mid Market gets my thumbs up. I still don't think Twitter deserves a tax break. But a tax incentive targeted for revitalization of a part of downtown make very good sense. If the city is successful in bringing groups such as ACT theater, Burning Man and Twitter to Mid-Market, it will go a long way to pull in the catalyst for revitalization. The tax break can be justified by the economic growth it induced. I also think the edginess of Mid-market fit Twitter's profile better than a suburban office park.
Still I hope any tax incentive will be only for short term. Twitter is a resourceful company. They should have figured that the city payroll tax is not a major part of their expense. For this small price, San Francisco provide them great number of talents that will be difficult to find elsewhere. Be a good corporate citizen, pay you due, make the city a better place. You will be rewarded many times over.
P.S. More coverage from BeyondChron, Tax break is for new hire only. Good job superviosr Jane Kim, David Chiu, and Mayor Lee. Seems like the new city government is functioning.
2011.02.08 comments -