I just moved into a new office and I need office furniture. A quick review of Craigslist revealed a decent surplus of Aeron chairs (the chair of start-up culture), usually selling for around 50% of retail. The ready availability of quality office furniture in the Bay Area got me to thinking – could the inventory of used office furniture be a good indicator of US economic health?

To test this theory, I looked at two charts in Google: the first, the Dow Industrial Average (from Google Finance) and the second, what I will call the “Aeron Economic Health Indicator” from Google Insight – this looks at the relative volume of searches for “Aeron Chair” in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2005 to present. I’m not a great graphics guy, so I basically just lined up the two charts together. Here’s the results (and, um, actually, the first chart is the Aeron and the second chart is the Dow, sorry for the confusion):

The data from the Dow is pretty straight-forward – everything was hunky-dory until the end of 2007, when panic set in, resulted in a massive drop until early 2009. The Aeron Index, however, shows two dips – one in the middle of 2005, and the other in early 2007. Since then, the data has straight-lined. Perhaps this suggests that the actions of start-ups in Silicon Valley are the “canary in a coalmine” for the rest of the economy. Once we see an uplift in searches for Aerons, perhaps only then will we really be able to say that we are emerging from this recession?

It bears mentioning, of course, that the Aeron – as a consumer product – is impacted by non-macro-economic factors. In this case, most crucially,  the decline in popularity of a 14 year old chair (and Herman Miller has released newer and arguably better chairs in recent years). So you might be able to argue that the fact that the Aeron is flatlining is in fact an indicator of economic health – one would expect an aging chair to see a decline in searches.

Anyway, it’s a bit of silly post, I know, but I thought it was a neat comparison chart!


  1. so shife March 28th, 2010

    I hope this is a sign of better things to come for the economy, I feel for the people suffering in this economy and a lot of them are friends around me not having jobs.

  2. Executive Office Furnishings San Francisco June 13th, 2011

    I feel for the people suffering in this economy

Leave a Comment

David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.