Angel tech investor and Mayor Ed Lee ally Ron Conway told Bloomberg Businessweek on Monday that America is increasingly a country of haves and have nots, and that San Francisco is doing something to reverse that trend.
“There is an income inequality gap in the United States,” he said. “In San Francisco we plan to do something about that.”
(Scroll down to see video of the interview)
One of the most expensive cities in the country, said Conway, will make greater strides by building more housing and getting the private sector, specifically tech companies, to give back.
He cited Lee’s plan to get 30,000 housing units built by 2020, tech philanthropy and volunteerism – led by his nonprofit sf.citi – as examples of what public and private leaders in San Francisco are already doing.
Conway first talked up volunteerism and civic engagement, such as the weekly employee street cleaning at Square, a mobile payment company that is headquartered in the mid-Market Street area.
On a much larger scale, he spoke about moves to squeeze real money from tech companies for philanthropy as a tool to help end class divisions.
With that in mind, he said he hopes to get 1,000 local tech companies to emulate the Salesforce.com model. That model, called 111, donates 1 percent of the company’s time, 1 percent of its profit and 1 percent of its equity.
That idea, said Conway, is something that he and Lee agree upon. In that vein, Lee has also called for San Francisco companies to emulate Salesforce and its CEO, Marc Benioff.
Conway said the other major tool to bridging the economic divide is coming from the Mayor’s Office.
He called Lee’s goal of 30,000 new housing units in the next six years, “a lofty goal.” But he admitted that if it is achieved “we will solve a huge piece of the gap that we have in affordable housing in San Francisco today.”