Message to techies: Identify with your community, not just your industry

Yelp "Community Managers" from around the world are gathered in the company's San Francisco headquarters.
Steven T. Jones

I appreciated the opportunity to address a couple hundred Yelp community managers from around the world today at the company’s San Francisco headquarters, and to deliver a message that those in the tech industry need to hear: “Be a part of your community, not just your company and industry.”

That idea obviously has a special resonance here in San Francisco, where the tensions between well-paid techies and activists concerned about increasing evictions, gentrification, and displacement have reached a fevered pitch. But it was a message that several people came up to me after the panel to say they appreciated, one that their industry would do well to heed.

Workers of all kinds have more in common with one another than any of us do with our corporate overlords and richest 1 percent of society. The young people at Yelp and other tech companies should want their cities to remain interesting, affordable, and diverse places. Ultimately, we’re all in this together, and we need to remember that cities are communities first, not simply places from which to extract wealth.

As we report in our latest issue, there have been nascent efforts to bridge the gap between tech workers and the rest of us, and I truly hope that some new leaders rise up in the tech world -- workers, not just bosses and investors using manipulative media strategies -- to challenge corporate power and the self-interest of venture capitalists and other tech titans. After all, the greatest promise of tech tools have always been their empowering, informing, and democratizing potential, not just their crassly commercial aspects.  

That said, my comments today were a small part of the discussion, in which I was the print representative on a media panel that included television (the hilarious Liam Mayclem, host of KPIX-TV’s “ Eye on the Bay”), radio (Joel Riddell, host of AM910’s “Dining Around with Joe Riddell”), and online (SFist Editor Brock Keeling).

We offered tips and answered questions about how best to pitch story ideas and get media coverage for their company and clients -- and I was happy to offer my time and advice to fellow members of my community. 


stereotype one group of people based on a broad categorization of their occupation and from that reasonably expect distinct action.

It makes far more sense for you to stop conveniently classifying people (as the elft just loves to do) and instead look at solutions and ideas that involve everyone.

"Separate but equal" didn't work in the south and it won't work here either. I seriously believe that Steven has more to learn from these educated knowledge workers than they have to learn from him.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

How exactly did you get "separate but equal" from "we're all in this together"? That's some pretty impressive troll gymnastics right there. 

Posted by steven on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

Why do you need to stereotype? If you really thought we were all in this together, you would not be treating tech workers differently from any other kind of worker.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

has reached "fever pitch"?

The google bus thing had it's 15 minutes of adequacy in 2013 and, other than the endless attempts at fermenting disruption on SFBG, I see none of the tension that you claim exists.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

Are you paying attention? Do you talk to people on the streets? City Hall politicians are tripping over themselves to address this issue, which national news outlets are covering with regularity now. Seriously, dude, you need to get out more. 

Posted by steven on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

alleged "tension" that you claim. Sure a few whiney losers did a couple of protests before that all fizzled out. but the vast majority of SF residents and voters have been going about their normal business and don't care a hoot about this.

This is your own private war and vendetta so own that, along with your bias. Ed Lee's approval rating continues to be high indicating that your fringe agitprop has little traction with the majority.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

Mayor Lee has also been spending quite a bit of time talking recently about this supposedly non-existent tension, or didn't you get the memo? Again, dude, spend some time talking to real people, you might learn something. 

Posted by steven on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

you only talk within your own narrow circle.

Lee will say what he thinks will make him look good, like any politician. But he knows that there isn't much that can be done and so it's a non-brainer for him to say warm words while enjoying the economic boom that he has given us.

Lee's approval numbers are great - the voters like jobs and growth far more than they care about a little gentrification, even assuming they think it's bad at all.

You're a dinosaur.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

SFBG-speak for "those who agree with our agenda."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

I don't care what neighborhood you are in, what political party you belong to, or whether you are a techie or a non-techie, people are discussing this everywhere. The press from around the world has been here for weeks following the story. I got an empanada last Saturday at Chile Lindo on 16th and a Dutch camera crew was set up there interviewing the public about the SF tech bubble story for their international news hour. How can anyone possibly say that no one cares about this? Have you left your home and gone outside recently? I mean, really, come on...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

Message to techies: register to vote. Let's repair the damage the far-left has done to San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

evicted and have to leave SF, but rather that there is an inexirable demographic shift in the city, and the silent majority of moderate centrists are becoming larger, while the stillborn rump of socialist losers is dwindling as they crawl across the bridge to Oakland.

And Steven is scared because it is not at all clear who would pay him to do anything, if not here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

The "far left" -- that would be writers and artists and visionaries who came together over decades to create the city that you are privileged to live in . . If I were you, a newish resident, I'm guessing, I would study the history of San Francisco from all sides and I would try to understand the voices and struggles, and appreciate the multicultural culture that made this city (and the Bay Area) a place you wanted to live and work. And I would figure out what I could do to foster those qualities and I would listen and try to learn about my new home. I would be a good neighbor. Most of all, I would be a good neighbor. Mayor Lee is not the visionary San Francisco needs; he is star-struck with money and power.

Posted by Cw on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

It was created by the gold rush, by the big banks being based here, by the world wars and, more recently, by tech.

The fact that a few nobodies came here and wrote bad poetry doesn't figure.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

That is the Gods truth, but meth heads can no longer reason…….

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2014 @ 10:09 pm

San Francisco was falling apart in the 70s. Remember Dirty Harry? Remember the Zodiac Killer? The Zebra Killer? San Francisco in 1970 was more dangerous than Oakland is today.

The Gay and Lesbians moved in, started fixing things up and helped turn San Francisco around.

You don't know anything about San Francisco. I doubt you even live here.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 08, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

Techies are by and far left wing

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

Indeed, the driving up of housing costs and displacement of longtime residents in favor of higher rents is the biggest driver of such tensions. What's been happening for many years there is now happening in my hometown of Austin, Tx. Neighborhoods are changing. Traffic has become snarled. Home purchase prices, once dirt cheap compared to Calif., are rising out of reach of average wage earners. I can't say it's all due to our booming tech sector here, but certainly much of it is. A sad downside to a vibrant economic climate. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

Posted by Laurel on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 5:29 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

Because what passes for progressive in SF could give a shi! about any other group beside themselves.

Message to the SFBG from Tech: get bent.
You have as much of a requirement to get used to us, as we have to get used to you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

In the past week we've seen multiple stories about a bar room fracas that involved Google Glass. The SFBG was quick to jump on the story of a local company who felt that a mobile app was a solution for homelessness. We've heard about AirBNB and their $1.8 million dollar 'tax evasion' ad nauseam.

But when Google writes a check to fund a transit program for low income families for two years it somehow doesn't make the radar screen of the SFBG.

Yes...having a media source that constructively presented the Progressive position would be a help, but we don't have one.

SFBG, we'll call you when we need some more comic relief. Otherwise, you are worthless.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

Take your pick: Ed Lee, AirBnB, Uber/Lyft, Techies, Bankers, Realtors and so on.

SFBG hates winners and success and loves losers and failure. Tough job.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

Perhaps you have some good ideas, some opinions that you might be able to state concisely and maturely if you took the time and thought out what you had to say and if, in fact, you had something valuable to offer.

Unfortunately, this tantrum you've posted is little more than an angry rant which doesn't qualify as either interesting or entertaining. If you have something that you feel would contribute to a discussion of civic growth and responsibility, I suggest taking your time: think it through; consider various counter argument(s); perhaps question your state of mind in the moment of writing (Did you roommate borrow your bike without asking? Did your girlfriend just dump you?); envision the readers that you hope to influence, and then do it because it is important and necessary and constructive, not just because you are pissed off. Being pissed off should be just the beginning of a much longer and more arduous process of thinking and rewriting (and rewriting) before hitting *send.*

You can do better. Or can you?

Posted by Cw on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

You can do better. Or can you?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

.... we actually wrote about that donation just as it happened. Like, immediately. We even mentioned it again in our print edition this week. But you know, good try and all. 

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

Can you maybe learn how to follow the indentation?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

he's not some troll that has lived in this comments section for years.
Like, oh, I don't know... you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:01 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

>"we actually wrote about that donation just as it happened."

Uh, no. You didn't. I knew that you weren't telling the truth when I didn't see any links.

The donation came about on Feb 27th. Anyone who wants to can look at and to see that the SFBG did NOT write about it. Alternatively anyone can search for $6.8 million or 'Google donation'. It will come up empty.

Two problems illustrated here. One is that the SFBG didn't cover a big story that didn't fit with their narrative. The other is that they lie, a lot. So much so that they don't even realize when they are doing so.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

Joe mentioned the Google donation in the only story I linked to in this post. And that donation doesn't dispel anything I wrote in this post.

Posted by STJ on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

OK, you're right. Joe mentioned the Google donation. One sentence on page 4, almost a week after all of the legitimate news sources wrote about it in detail, with headlines.

Joe Fitzgerald lied when he said that the SFBG wrote about it right away. It is typical of the SFBG -- they say whatever is convenient without even stopping to think if it is true or not.

So the SFBG will do multiple stories on one woman wearing Google Glass in a bar but only one sentence on Google providing significant funding for a muni program.

And you think that people should consider you to be a viable information source.

Because the Google donation isn't the type of story that you like to tell. It doesn't fit with the narrative that you like to push. Even though you have been writing about Google buses for several months.

Every legitimate journalist covered that big story. And it demonstrates why the SFBG is viewed as a pathetic joke.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

Yes, apparently you can buy a lot of positive mainstream media coverage for a one-time $6 million donation, a drop in the bucket for a company that should already have been paying that and more in taxes. The reason why we didn't fawn all over this donation isn't because "it didn't fit our narrative," it's because we have a sense of perspective and history. Yes, it was a nice gesture and it helps the city, but it happened as a result of the activism that we've been covering and promoting, and it doesn't solve the problems that Google is creating for San Francisco.

Posted by steven on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:26 am

The only "problem" Google is causing for San Francisco is a boost in prosperity and success. I know you hate that.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:37 am

Wow, how many incorrect things can even Steven Jones say in one paragraph?

1. "a company that should already have been paying that and more in taxes."

Of course Google pays more than $6.8 million in taxes. They don't pay all of it to San Francisco because, well, they happen to be located in Mountain View. They do have San Francisco offices that are not in the mid market tax zone so they pay regular San Francisco business taxes on those employees.

2. "a one-time $6 million donation"

Actually it was closer to $7 million and they made it clear that it was NOT a one time deal. They said they were doing it as a placeholder while a fair arrangement was made for payment of bus stop usage.

3. " it happened as a result of the activism that we've been covering and promoting

This is a plea to the SFBG staff... you are being negligent by not doing an intervention. Steven's incredibly over inflated sense of self importance is damaging not only to your business but to the progressive movement as a whole.

Seriously...Ed Lee cultivates a positive relationship with the tech companies, David Chiu works with them for months, but they made the donation only because of Steven?

Also, the concept that he can say whatever he wants without the slightest concern that he isn't telling the truth? You don't see that as a problem?

How can you not schedule an intervention?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

I'd love to be in the room when he gets canned like Tim

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

Steven was given the job with the specific intent that it would embarrass the progressive movement in San Francisco.

He has fully live up to that expectation, and more (who could possibly have expected his premature gloating over the 'karma' or Oracle losing the America's Cup, or the way that the activist aware SFBG published a video of one of their own posing as a Google employee).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

And who can forget "charity is bourgeois"?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

Google is not located in San Francisco, and therefore would never pay taxes in San Francisco. So your statement that " should already have been paying that and more in taxes" is either a lie, or you are completely ignorant of how taxes work.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 12, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

This might well be a short term fad for both the progressives who want to incorporate the tech types and the tech types who want to seem hip.

This rhetorical non sense is appealing to people who went to college and feel smart and above it all. Tech types with little real world experience but a lot of high school and college time in want to be "real," while progressives never too any real classes claim to be smarter and better.

Posted by guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

Congratulations. You're the new standard bearers for the age-old human failing of negative stereotyping, scapegoating and "otherizing" of newcomers that is in the storied tradition of the nazis, KKK, and many others dark stains in the history of the human race. Like every one before this one driven by economic conflict. But I'm sure this time, unlike all the others, the haters are in the right.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

Yes, Tom, the Guardian's coverage of growing wealth disparities makes us just like the Nazis and the KKK. Because being born Jewish or African American is exactly the same thing of greedy rich people manipulating our political and economic systems. Thank you for showing us the error of our ways, now I understand how wrong it is criticize anyone for any reason. Kumbaya.  

Posted by steven on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:31 am

class of people to wage some kind of class warfare of them is essentially dishonest and prejudicial.

You justify it if the class is white alpha males or Jewish investment bankers, but not if it is gays or blacks. But the reality is that you are engaged in the same kind of identity politics either way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:40 am

people who want immigration law obeyed "nativists," by the way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

You're not providing coverage of the 'growing wealth disparities'. You don't cover educational, cultural or historical factors affecting wealth distribution.

All you do is point at one group of 'greedy rich people manipulating our political and economic systems' and claim that they are the root cause of other's problems.

Sound familiar?

It is a different generation but the same classical bigotry. You can expect good people to stand against you every step of the way.

The only reason that more haven't done so already is because of your lack of any significant influence.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

I recognize SG by his writing style. You are wasting your time.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 08, 2014 @ 10:03 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 09, 2014 @ 8:06 am

a lot.

Yelp is essentially an extortion racket. They call up legitimate businesses and ask them to advertise with Yelp. If the business says no, then they manipulate star ratings downwards, hide the good ratings, move up the bad ratings, etc. If they agree, then they do the opposite. There have even been cases where businesses have sued Yelp under the suspicion that they're writing fake reviews. Yelp denies it, but in some of these cases it's clear that the people who wrote the reviews never set foot in the business, and the trouble began when the business owner rejected Yelp's extortion ultimatum.

Yelp is the modern version of the greasy-haired mobster going into a shop saying, "Nice little business you've got there. Hate to see anything happen to it..."

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 12:24 am

I think we are turning a corner here with people identifying with their community, not just their job. Techies need to do more to help where they live, especially if they are new, but people are starting to wake up. Going after the workers instead of the owners and capitalists is not likely to bring about fruitful change.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 12:40 am

"Techies need to do more to help where they live"

Agreed. Tech workers need to organize politically, to help vote the remaining progressive politicians in San Francisco out of office.

Posted by racer さ on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:02 am

city is becoming more rational, moderate and centrists as professionals and knowledge workers move here and the "loser lifer" under-achieving boomer types get driven out.

SFBG will become less and less influential as the demographics move against it, until their bosses will simply close it down, whereupon Steven will be unemployed and unemployable.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 7:00 am

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