Google Ventures Partner Kevin Rose Targeted By Anti-Tech Protesters
A Google Ventures partner returned to his San Francisco home to anti-gentrification protesters demonstrating and putting up fliers calling him a “parasite.”
TechCrunch reports Kevin Rose, who also founded the news aggregator site Digg, was greeted by banner-wielding, flyer-pasting protesters outside his Potrero Hill home. One of the banners read “KEVIN ROSE:PARASITE” Another read, somewhat inexplicably, “I’MA SNIP SNIP YR BALLZ.” “The fliers, titled “Kevin Rose: Parasite,” read in part:
As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland
The flier continues:
With each new tech corporation comes a fresh wave of techies, who on average earn four times more than a normal service worker. We are the ones who serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their cocks, watch their kids and mop their floors. Nearly all of them are just like Kevin Rose, and we are tired of this miserable and untenable situation.
The Huffington Post reports the protest appears to have been organized by a group called The Counterforce, which claimed responsibility for the demonstration on both IndyBay.org and the blog kevinroseisaterribleperson.
The Counterforce has demanded that Google pay a “ransom” of $3 billion for its displacing effect on city rents, which have soared in large part due to a booming tech-based economy:
We demand that Google give $3 billion to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free.
Much of the protesters’ anger stems from the soaring rent and property prices, and resultant displacement, caused by the ongoing tech boom. The median home price in San Francisco has topped $1 million, with the average 1-bedroom apartment now renting for over $3,000 per month. Researcher Alexandra Goldman has found that rental prices within walking distance of Google bus pickup sites have risen faster than elsewhere in the area.
“We’re seeing rents have gone up 20 percent in the last year along tech bus routes, because [tech company workers] move to units along those stops,” explained Erin McElroy of Eviction Free SF, the group responsible for the protests that blocked Google buses throughout the city. “Eviction rates go up along tech bus routes because of (landlord) speculation,” McElroy told Grist.
While there have been numerous protests against the private luxury corporate buses that shuttle tech workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and back, this is one of the first times that protesters have targeted a tech worker at his or her home.
Despite the in-your-face nature of the protest against him, Rose took to Twitter to voice his understanding of the affordability crisis and his sympathy for those negatively affected by it.
“The thing that really gets me at the core is that I understand their frustrations,” Rose said in an interview with This Week In Tech. “There’s a conversation to be had here, but it’s not by throwing rocks through windows [or] throwing up on buses.”
Rose hearkened back to the days when he earned less than $30,000 a year when he first moved to the Bay Area in the early 2000s.
“It was hard to live in San Francisco,” he acknowledged.
Rose added that “there are some really shady things going on here,” like “landlords kicking out longtime tenants and instantly jacking up prices because they know they can get it from the tech folks who are making more. People are getting displaced, and that’s frustrating. But there are good things happening as well.”
A Google spokesperson pointed out in an interview with the Huffington Post that the corporation has pledged $6.8 million to fund free city bus passes for low-income youth.
Tagged Google, Google bus, Google Ventures, Kevin Rose, Kevin Rose Google, Kevin Rose parasite, San Francisco affordability, San Francisco gentrification, San Francisco rental prices, San Francisco tech boom, The Counterforce