San Francisco Tech Billionaires Go to War over Homelessness

San Francisco – David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Proposition C, a bill to fight homelessness with a new business tax, slid into San Francisco’s DMs in the middle of the night, politically speaking.
What happened was, in December of last year, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee died unexpectedly. Over the next seven months, the city lived through two mayors and a nail-biting election that dragged on for a week after voting. The Coalition for Homelessness took advantage of the chaos by gathering enough signatures to qualify a ballot initiative to tax local businesses and use the money to help the 7,500 people sleeping on the city’s streets.

Even then, the idea might have remained an underdog, underfunded ballot initiative—until Marc Benioff got involved. The founder and co-CEO of Salesforce—San Francisco’s largest private employer, main tenant and naming rightsholder of the tallest skyscraper in the city (and the adjacent marquee transportation terminal)—started dropping millions of dollars in support of Prop C. Benioff called out his fellow billionaires, by name, on social media and in public appearances—and they responded defensively. Today you can dimly make out their grappling silhouettes looming, kaiju-like, over the financial-district skyline, where the oligarchs’ proxy fight over San Francisco’s greatest shame now threatens to dispel some of the foundational illusions of the way-new economy.

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San Francisco Tech Billionaires Go to War over Homelessness

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