Downsizing - Silicon Valley Style

In the article, How Silicon Valley families are downsizing their lives, Mike Cassidy sketches the portraits of a number of families in the Bay Area affected by the recent economic downturn. There's the story of the landscape architect, the occasional personal assistant, the butcher, and the low income couple, all struggling to get by. Then, there's this:

And even those well beyond middle class, like computer scientists Radha Chandika and Ravi Duvvuri, are discovering they've got it good, but not nearly as good as they once had it. Chandika and her husband, Duvvuri, moved to Silicon Valley in 1994 and joined the successful tech crowd.

By early 2007, they had two kids and a house in Cupertino. Duvvuri was a software architect at Blue Coat Systems, and Chandika was a software engineer at Google. Their household income was about $300,000.

Duvvuri left his job to start an Indian social-networking company with a friend and former business partner, reducing the family income by about half. He says he would have done it no matter the economic conditions, but with rising prices the family has cut spending more than they anticipated.

Duvvuri, who draws no salary, says he's concluded the Bay Area is no place to live as a family on one income. At the end of the year, he and Chandika plan to move their family back to India, where their lives and prospects will be better.

"I have more reasons to go back," he says, "than to stay."

But more than all that, the Big Squeeze has Chandika and Duvvuri thinking about how lucky they are and how difficult tough times must be for those who have much less.

I suspect many eyebrows will be raised by this one, particularly as the income cut in here was purely voluntary. While it is true the Valley is becoming tougher for entrepreneurs due to rising costs, it is disconcerting to note $150K doesn't go as far as it used to. Or is it just the high standards to which we subject ourselves? If anything, there are similarities between another report in the NY Times which caused quite a stir in the blogosphere, particularly in the valley. Remember?

MENLO PARK, Calif. — By almost any definition — except his own and perhaps those of

Mr. Steger, 51, a self-described geek, has banked more than $2 million. The $1.3 million house he and his wife own on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is paid off. The couple’s net worth of roughly $3.5 million places them in the top 2 percent of families in the United States.

Yet each day Mr. Steger continues to toil in what a colleague calls “the Silicon Valley salt mines,” working as a marketing executive for a technology start-up company, still striving for his big strike. Most mornings, he can be found at his desk by 7. He typically works 12 hours a day and logs an extra 10 hours over the weekend.

“I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.”

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- June 2, 2008 10:54 AM // Bay Area