It turns out the private meeting Mayor Ed Lee held with tech executives Monday has quickly resulted in a campaign to show San Franciscans that the industry cares about those most impacted by The City's economic divisions.
“More than ever, the industry as a whole is ready to roll up its sleeves and work together on issues impacting all San Franciscans and to make sure our city's economic success reaches all of our residents and neighborhoods,” said investor Ron Conway, chairman of sf.citi, a sort of tech chamber of commerce that is heading up the campaign.
Whether this push to play a more public role was a reaction to two very public events last week — both encapsulating the divide — is unclear.
The first was an imposter Google employee who ranted at protesters blocking a Google shuttle bus about how The City is a place only for the well off. The second was a very real classist Facebook post by AngelHack co-founder Greg Gopman insisting that the poor and homeless should know their place in society.
What is clear is that Lee's goading helped get the ball rolling, according to sf.citi, whose plan is to push tech to help advocate for more below-market-rate housing, be more social responsibile, increase philanthropy and help create a local jobs pipeline.
To achieve these goals, sf.citi is working with SPUR, Salesforce.com Foundation and the San Francisco Unified School District.
Their housing efforts will be headed by Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR, who was present at the mayor's Monday meeting. Metcalf will head a committee that will work to find solutions to The City's housing crisis with housing rights groups, developers and real estate interests. Metcalf recently held a closed-door meeting with developers on how to deal with the backlash against growth.
The efforts to create a jobs pipeline, with a focus on those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, will be led by Laura Moran, chief of staff of schools Superintendent Richard Carranza. The pipeline will include exposing elementary- and middle-school students to coding, an expansion of high school IT education, and the creation of internship and job opportunities for San Francisco State University students.
Finally, Suzanne DiBianca, president of Salesforce, will head up efforts to help tech companies create foundations and encourage their employees to give back.
All three committees will begin meeting in January as part of sf.citi's campaign to give back to San Francisco.
Not everyone in City Hall is wowed by the announcement.
“It appears that Conway and other leaders in the tech sector are starting to come around to the fact that there is a lot of discontent about lack of affordability and the displacement of longtime residents for the wealthier, less diverse crowd of newcomers to The City,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “He's heard the outcry that tech must do more. My concern is that the sector will try to use their munificence to promote their agenda over a community-driven agenda based on real need.”