Recently the leaders in the tech industry met in San Francisco’s silicon valley for TechCrunch’s seventh Annual Crunchies Awards. Inside the room was filled with CEO’s from major companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, while the sidewalk outside was filled with protestors. Those holding the signs were there because of the result of the booming tech industry: gentrification and displacement.
The rise of Silicon Valley has gentrified many areas, raising rent rates and forcing middle-class working families out of their homes. As if to add insult to injury, Twitter negotiated tax breaks with the local government after threatening to take their business out of San Francisco. The result was a group of unhappy, hard working Americans protesting the Crunchies Awards and asking for help.
Silicon Valley has responded with a few CEO’s starting charities. Some, like investor Ron Conway, are even working with the major to find solutions and to use the leverage of the tech industry for good. It may be that the only reason the tech company is taking action on this issue is because of the protests and an effort to improve their image.
The protests have pointed out that the charity the tech industry has attempted to put together is not enough. Some measures are as backhanded as Spotify, the music playing service that promised to “pay for employees to attend local performances including concerts, theater, dance, or performance art shows” in an effort to help the community.
Because of the tech boom rental rates have risen 72 percent since 2011 and the instances of no-fault evictions have doubled in the past year. Some protestors want to see the tech industry pay for affordable housing, free public transportation and community parks.
The tech industry may not clearly see the large impact they have had on the San Francisco community. It is pretty clear that they are not doing enough to mitigate the damage they’ve caused to working class families.