Companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area are constantly the news — and chances are that when you watch or read stories about these firms, you’ll hear words like “tech,” “startup” and “unicorn” recurring frequently.
Since the Bay Area is home to Silicon Valley and many of the world’s leading high-tech corporations, this emphasis is easy to understand. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find that the reality is more complex. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, technology and professional services (the region’s distinguishing industries) have driven almost 40% of the region’s growth, but the remaining 60% is due to other high-performing sectors.
So while tech is a huge part of the economy and demand for talent is sky-high, there are also lots of opportunities for people with other skills. So what does Indeed’s 15 million-strong reviews database tell us about which companies are the best places to work for Bay Area dwellers?
Our data science team crunched the numbers — here are the answers.
Salesforce tops the list for best places to work in the Bay Area
In fact, although tech firms perform very well in our list — occupying five of the slots in the Top 10 — they are balanced by companies from a wide variety of other industries, including healthcare, petrochemicals and even a candy company.
That said, even the tech firms demonstrate the diversity of what it means to be in today’s top ten.
At the top, we have Software-as-a-Service giant Salesforce, followed by second place Apple. Apple is most famous for its smartphones and MacBooks, of course, but they also operate retail stores, a music streaming service and are currently investing in self-driving cars.
In fifth place comes Google: Everybody knows the search engine, but parent company Alphabet is also in the entertainment, health research and self-driving car business. Eighth place Intuit makes popular tax preparation solutions such as Mint, TurboTax and Quickbooks while creative software powerhouse Adobe places tenth.
Thus we see how diverse “tech” really can be — and of course, these firms also employ marketers, researchers, recruiters, designers and people in a multitude of other roles. But that’s not all: Our Top 10 also includes two healthcare companies, Kaiser Permanente (#3) and Stanford Health Care (#9) while Warren Buffett-owned candy manufacturer See’s Candies places fourth and petrochemical giant Chevron lands in sixth place. Outside the top ten we see even more diversity: Electronic Arts, a Redwood City-based video game company, clothes retailer Banana Republic (#21) and cleaning product firm Clorox (#23).
The truth is, today the line between tech and non-tech is less clear. Just as Google moves into health technology, so healthcare organizations such as Kaiser Permanente or Stanford Health Care are hiring data scientists — while research firm Genentech blurs the line even further. This synergy is not restricted to tech and healthcare. Today, every company is a tech company.
What are the best companies doing right?
Now let’s take a deeper dive into the top five companies, by looking at employee reviews featured on Indeed’s company pages to find out what they’re doing right.
HQ: San Francisco, California
No. of employees: 10,000+
Cloud computing giant Salesforce is based in San Francisco and provides CRM services and business software to customers on a subscription basis. Salesforce also places first for management and culture, while coming in second for job security. Employees praise the firm for providing a fun but effective culture, and a place where people have a “great opportunity to learn something new everyday.” The mix of employees is also singled out as “diverse by age, cultural background and educational level” while the firm’s dedication to philanthropy and volunteering also receives praise.
Finally, one former employee sums it up like this: “Great culture, great colleagues, awesome environment. I would go back and work for Salesforce in a heartbeat. I hope to someday make a return to Salesforce.”
HQ: Cupertino, CA
No. of employees: 10,000+
Apple is an American icon, renowned for its forward looking designs and products. But what’s it like on the inside? One reviewer highlights how seriously the firm takes its mission, describing Apple's work atmosphere as “a fast-paced, hard-driving, passionate work environment” where there is “a maniacal focus on quality and delivery.” Who will thrive here? “Independent self-starters who excel at finding creative solutions to complex problems.” Despite this dedication to quality, another reviewer praises the company for being “very understanding and accommodating to life events” while adding that “the company culture is very relaxed and fun” and that diversity and inclusion are highly prized.
And then there’s always this: “They offer excellent career development opportunities as well as benefits that are impossible to beat.”
3. Kaiser Permanente
HQ: Oakland, CA
No. of Employees: 10,000+
Oakland-based healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente places first for job security and third for compensation, while it also receives strong reviews for its management and benefits, which include “tuition reimbursement, vacation, sick time and personal days.” Says one reviewer, “There was never a day in 20 years that I didn't enjoy going to work there.”
That said, the people at Kaiser Permanente take their work very seriously, as one reviewer also refers to the “competitive and fast-paced” environment, before adding that hard-working team players will fit right in.
4. See’s Candies
HQ: South San Francisco, CA
No. of Employees: 1,001–5,000
Candy manufacturer and distributor See’s Candies has brought in over one-and-a-half billion dollars in profits for Warren Buffett since he bought it for $30 million dollars in 1972. But the firm is more than just profitable: Employees rank it particularly highly for the quality of its management, where it places second of all the firms on our list. Employees enjoy working with customers, with one reviewer putting it simply: “I enjoyed working with customers because chocolate makes everyone happy” while another adds, “everyone genuinely cares about the products.”
But there’s more to See’s than just helping customers indulge their sweet tooth — management receives high praise while another employee speaks of the learning opportunities, pointing to a “variety of useful skills” developed while working there.
HQ: Mountain View, CA
No. of Employees: 10,000+
Fifth is none other than search engine and technology giant Google. Employees who worked there say that they “advanced their knowledge tremendously” and were “constantly being challenged.” Others praise the company culture, which is fast-paced but still relaxed, friendly and fun — “more like a summer camp than an office,” says one employee.
Still others would recommend the company to “entrepreneurial-minded individuals who are comfortable with frequent change in uncharted territory.”
So there is more to the Bay Area than meets the eye. As Indeed SVP of Product, Raj Mukherjee puts it, "Even though the Bay Area is known for drawing talent for its booming tech scene, we find it interesting that many companies from a range of industries are ranked as favorable places to work in the area."
"Employees are happiest with an overall enjoyable workplace experience. Job security, fair compensation, work/life balance, management and culture are all important factors when identifying a 'great' place to work."
Want to learn more? See the complete rankings here.