Monday, November 25, 2013

Techies must nip growing scorn in bud

Willie Brown
Updated 2:35 pm, Sunday, November 24, 2013  SF Gate

This photo shows the sign outside of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. As Twitter prepares to complete its initial public offering of stock this week, the San Francisco company's history of losses totaling nearly $500 million is raising questions about its ability to turn a cultural phenomenon into a sustainable business. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Photo: Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

There's a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn't start changing its self-centered culture.

Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It's only a matter of time before the techies' youthful lustre fades, and they're seen as just another extension of Wall Street.

And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we're giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don't even hire locals.

At which point, the politicians will do what they always do - count votes. And by my last count, for all of their hype and money, tech types were still a decidedly small part of the vote. If they even vote at all.

What the tech world needs to do is nip this thorny plant in the bud. They need to come off their high cloud efforts to save Africa or wherever they take adventure vacations and start making things better for folks right here.

They need to start helping in Hunters Point and in Chinatown.

Most of all, they need to start hiring locals.

Otherwise, the next time it comes to a tax measure or a vote at the Planning Commission, they could find themselves getting skinned.

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