Startup CEO Wishes Homeless
‘Degenerates’ Would Stop Ruining
‘The Civilized Part’ Of San Francisco

By Aviva Shen     
December 11, 2013

Silicon Valley rising star Greg Gopman took to Facebook on Tuesday to rail
against poor and homeless residents of San Francisco, inflaming already
simmering tensions between the city’s tech industry and low-wage workers.

Gopman, the CEO of the hackathon-organizing startup AngelHack, went on a
rant wishing the “crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash” would
segregate themselves and stop marring his experience of San Francisco.

In the comments, Gopman bemoaned how the “degenerates” of San Francisco
“gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, [and] get rowdy” in an
area of town he considers to be off-limits to them. In comparison, he offered a
rosy view of more class-segregated cities, where, he says, “the lower part of
society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and
generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized
part of town and view themselves as guests.”

Gopman deleted the post and apologized for his diatribe the next morning. “I
trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn’t have,” he
wrote. “I hope this thread can help start an open discussion on what changes
we can make to fix these serious problems.”

The CEO’s comments came just a day after protesters blocked a Google
commuter shuttle, decrying tech-driven gentrification and San Francisco’s
increasingly unaffordable housing costs. As the uber-rich tech industry
migrates north from Silicon Valley the city’s real estate costs have soared,
income inequality has worsened, and many long-time San Francisco residents
are suddenly being priced out of their neighborhoods.

While Gopman’s post was especially incendiary, he’s not the only one who has
expressed the idea that homeless and poor residents are an unsightly burden
on the city. Another startup founder, Peter Shih, sparked outrage over the
summer by complaining that homeless people were ruining San Francisco for
him. This disgust may soon spread past a few insensitive individuals and start
influencing actual policy. San Francisco is currently considering criminalizing
homelessness by making it illegal to sleep in city parks at night.

The tech boom has already transformed Silicon Valley, where a sharp class
divide has emerged between tech workers and the growing population of low-
wage janitors, housekeepers, waiters, retail workers, and bank tellers who
serve them. Most of Silicon Valley’s projected job growth is made up of jobs that
pay less than $50,000 a year, falling drastically short of what it takes to afford
an apartment in the region. Homelessness in the area shot up 20 percent in two
years as housing prices rose farther out of reach for all but the wealthiest
workers. San Francisco may be next.
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