Tech workers aren't all evil

Smashing the Google bus piñata was a bit much


Read the full original blog post this op-ed was drawn from here.

OPINION I hear a lot of talk, especially from my own queer community, about how "tech people" are ruining San Francisco. From skyrocketing rent prices and disappearing diversity to economic and cultural ruination, the tech community has become the scapegoat for a lot of the problems we are facing in the city as a whole. As a tech worker, I'm writing this to say: wake up and direct your anger at the real sources of these problems.

First of all, let's get one thing straight. The vast majority of "tech people" in San Francisco don't make nearly as much money as you think they do. We are not all making six-figure salaries, we are not personally driving up rent costs, and we are not killing the cultural community here. Simply put, we are trying to further our careers and make the city we call home a nicer place to live.

From day one of living in San Francisco, I've put blood sweat and tears into building the cultural community in SF (music, mostly), and I'll never stop doing that. I first moved here with my husband in 2006 from Indiana. I immediately immersed myself in the music scene here, forming a touring band and quickly becoming a booker and promoter for live shows. It wasn't until several years into my time here that I snuck my way into the tech industry. Here I am, five years into my tenure at Bay Area music tech startup Thrillcall, hustling every day to help build music communities not only in SF, but across the country.

The tipping point for me, to be honest, was the nonsense of people beating up a Google bus piñata in the Mission, shouting epithets about how they're the bane of San Francisco. The people that ride those buses are not to blame. They are not heading up that company, they don't make millions of dollars, and they certainly don't deserve the hatred being directed at them by many people here in San Francisco.

You know what is ruining San Francisco? Complacency. Apathy. Misguided hate. Inaction. Put some energy into making change, not senseless whining.

If you're upset about rising rent costs, be angry at the money-hungry landlords that do absolutely nothing to put money back into the city or help build culture. Want SF prices to stop skyrocketing? Let's organize and drive proposals with our city government. Upset about the recent sanitization of many of the lovely traditions and values of San Francisco? Get mad at Sup. Scott Weiner, who is actually supported by a lot of longtime, non-tech residents. Want more culture, arts, music? Maybe try reaching out to people that can help in the tech world instead of complaining about everything going downhill.

We are not the companies we work for, however large or small. Corporations, for the most part, suck.

We're not the douche bags you think we are. Let's put our energy toward doing good, instead of just pointing fingers. We all know that. Demonizing the people that work for them (while contributing to this wonderful city) is baseless, classless, and makes you look like a total dick.

A great deal can be accomplished if people take an active role toward coexisting, rather than shouting "ENEMY!" to anyone who will listen.

Johnny Koch is promotional manager, artist management, and site administrator at Thrillcall.


categorizing them by their race or gender.

Just because a group isn't a protected class under anti-discrimination legislation does not mean that the SFBG should go around hurling abuse at people based on a stereotype.

Posted by anon on May. 14, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

it seems to have infected conservatives ever since Obama was elected and they felt all trapped and victimy.

Posted by admin on May. 15, 2013 @ 2:00 pm
Posted by anon on May. 15, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

referring to "oneself" in third person.

Posted by admin on May. 15, 2013 @ 3:11 pm
Posted by anon on May. 16, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

Unless they are cyclists, of course, in which case, no shortage of deprivation of civil rights will be tolerated.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 9:55 am

very good at getting more than less influential groups. They get no sympathy from me, especially when they whine about their "rights".

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Right, and the techies are "the most vulnerable" whose civil rights require careful attention.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 10:52 am

We're just talking about the privileges. and advantages of being part of affluent groups of whites (and some Asians) like tech workers and cyclists.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:15 am

Your quarrel is with anon, not me.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:22 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:33 am

Leftists always talk about privilege but never mention the hard work and sacrifice put in to get that privilege. The parents of most affluent Asians were dirt poor by American standards a generation or two ago, and through hard work gave their children a better life. Now you want to take away what they worked so hard for? F U

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:43 am

likes to bandy about. The reality is that some people from privilege fail and some from modest backgrounds succeed.

It's really just another trick in the class warfare armory.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:59 am

You don't choose your race or gender, but you can choose your vocation.

In other words, you aren't born an asshole, you choose to be one, of that you are the perfect example.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

somehow makes someone as asshole?

That's your point?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:56 am

You know that, but are trying to win points in your imaginary debating contest.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:03 am

But if it's being an asshole to oppose stereotyping people and exhibiting prejudice against them, then I'm proud to be called an asshole.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:15 am

Civil rights do not solely accrue to people based on birth status. Civil rights means that everyone has equal access to the public economic sphere through all legal modes of conduct.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

I am really surprised that the Guardian printed this article. It seems like something out of the SF Weekly. It seems to say that the tech workers should not be held accountable for our current situation. If they were not willing to pay the "market value" rents, then the landlords would not be renting them at that price. Has this author paid no attention to the fact that the city government is ushering in this new "city of the rich." Who are the people purchasing buildings and evicting artists so their family can move in? Why is this happening so much more now than ever before? Is it the tech people? Why have these companies not helped to create space for artists and low income people? To me it seems like reckless and irresponsible growth. Where is the accountability? Where is the integrity?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:38 am

being a successful economy.You can have cheap rent if you move to Detroit, but who would freely ever do that?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:58 am

when your iPhone gets jacked by the guy who rang you up at walgreens. there is always a breaking point.

Posted by Total hipster dude on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

I can't see that as a great tagline for a candidate for an election, can you?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

No I will not be doing the mugging. I make an average middle class living, which in SF puts me in the lower class. But I have no personal complaints, I get by. I put myself through college. I don't want anything owed to me. I am not a "taker" or any of that. I am however someone who grew up in an urban core. And I will tell you this. People getting paid nothing, losing their places to live, and not having anyone care one way or another about how they will get by will cause more crime. You can build a higher fence or whatever but eventually it will effect you. At some point maybe it will not matter and everyone will order everything from their computer. I don't know. You do seem like a naive toolbag though. Cheers!

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

The problem is that progressives are constantly trying to extort money from others on the rationale that if we don't pay more then this vast underclass will rise up and seize it.

Ok, that happened in Russia in 1915 but does anyone seriously think that the average unwashed SF activist can organize a revolution? Hell, they can't even organize a shower.

So, no, I'd rather pay more for security than be blackmailed, sorry.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

I have nothing against tech people, nothing wrong with someone working or trying to open a business. I also want to point out to people that just by writing comments on here you are using the internet that was created by the tech people. If you own a cell phone, do facebook, search for films, buy online tickets or travel. You are using tech that the tech world created. Yelp, bank online, pay your rent, shop, find a date and simply watch TV on your computer. Do I need to say "tech world" again.

I wonder how they old San Franciscans felt during the Gold Rush, Comstock, World War 2 and afterwards. Even the Hippies that came might have been upsetting to the locals. Remember lots of GLBTQ came to San Francisco in the 70's and 80's which didn't seem to bother me one way or another. Harvey Milk was a transplant.

Now I was born in the Bay Area, i should be mad at Google or the tech people. Why? They drove up the prices where I am from, businesses closed, rents went up, things changed so much and I can say nothing is the same. The tech people don't bother me, i can relate to them.

I miss my hometown, miss the way of the old, miss when the whole thing wasn't as big like it is now. I was born in Mountain View, Ca, right in the middle of Silicon Valley where it all began. In fact use to have beer with friends inside the Walker's Wagon Wheel Bar, this is where Silicon Valley got its name.

Posted by Garrett on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:58 am

I am all for technology. And tech employees. Pay them $25-$35 per hour. I have friends that make $70/hour as tech consultants. It is BS. They should not be making 7 times what my friends working at retail stores make. No job is that important relative to another job in my socialist opinion. Google buses take up MUNI spots on the street and the companies are using city roads and not paying taxes on the is that NOT a problem with a city that is notorious for having some of the slowest public transit in the US?

Posted by Total hipster dude on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

company's shareholders. Your opinion about what they should get paid, as fascinating as it is, doesn't matter.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

They get paid that much because programming is basically impossibly difficult for most people. I know, I've tried it myself. There is a limited supply of good programmers/tech whatever, and a boatload of demand.. I'm fine with surgeons getting paid well for having an extremely important, extremely specialized skill. what else is there to understand? The tech bubble will probably burst, shift or change and then the tech boys have to adapt, like everyone else.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

In 3 years the techies who haven't moved away will be hating on whatever new group/trend emerges.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:26 am

and they always will. Resisting progress is hardly a progressive value.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:45 am
Posted by anon on May. 16, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

Damn Google people and their fancy busses! They should have stopped gentrification right after we moved in! Yes to expensive bikes and skinny jeans! No to shy nerds and laptops!

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

There is a stark contrast between people moving to SF 6-7 years ago working retail jobs for $12/hour and tech people moving here now making $60/hour. Do I personally hold tech people accountable? Not really. Do I wish they would look me in the eye and communicate like adults? Yes, however that problem has spread to pretty much everyone. I am a huge fan of migrating to new parts of the country. Or the world. I have lived all over and I didn't come from any money. I have no parental fall-back money. I think the problem is when local governments placate to huge billion-dollar businesses (and employees) and forget what people who don't make a lot of money have to deal with (muni, rents). The whole white people can't critique economic disparity is just so played out. I am white and I can have an opinion. Also a personal feeling is that if you have lived your whole life where you grew up you generally are a weak insecure person, too close to your family, or lack any adventure in your soul. My jeans are baggy and your mind is wack.

Posted by Total hipster dude on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

as the very people you are criticizing.

You come across as an inverted snob i.e. you only like people if they are not well paid, as if poorly-paid people are somehow more noble.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

How dense are you? Judging people by their pay? Not what I said at all. I have friends that make a ton of money. My brother is a doctor. I have no problem with wealth. I am saying that pay from one job to the next is ridiculous. And middle class pay has gone down. Taking a small percentage of tech people and paying them triple the average other professional is a joke. Read a bit on wage versus productivity. Poorly paid people are often less educated and often slightly lazy. I don't like them more or less. I have worked in both low and high paying environments. And the amount people make in the tech world is a load of crap. I hope there is a point where those wages come back down to earth. Economies sputter when people in the middle and bottom don't have money to put back into the economy.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

If some guy makes 200k then that is what he makes. Unless you are paying his salary it is quite simply none of your beeswax what he makes.

Thats aid, it is usually low-earners who whine the most about what others make. The rest of us simply try and do better ourselves by learning from the observation, rather than whining about it.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

Not sure if this is about misplaced , misdirected blame 'or' just trying
to do 'damage control' for his own class , but talk about having your
cake and eating it too!.. The blame for hyper warp speed apart-
ment rents can be placed on the heads of the "greedy by nature" land
lords but some of it can also roll onto techies like Johnny Koch , who
likely helped out by "bidding up" the rents by offering 25% to 50% MORE
than asked , just to secure his little piece in paradise ( S.F.) , even
though he likely works at a campus in another city , in another county.

Posted by Randy Fleming on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:37 am

...that I snuck my way into the tech industry."?!.. The past tense for sneak is

Posted by Randy Fleming on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:41 am


Posted by Ragazzu on May. 18, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

You say "Get mad at Sup. Scott Weiner, who is actually supported by a lot of longtime, non-tech residents. " WTF is that suppose to mean? Because he is supported by longtime citizens he is the problem? What is the connection? Someone's brain synapses are not clearly not connecting.

Posted by Guest David on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

Take a walk down valencia, now we see fancy expensive coffee shops, expensive restaurants, and loads of white people, as this area is slowly losing its diversity. I understand your point, and agree that anger towards the new residents should be more constructive. But I have seen with my own eyes how this city has changed (I have never lived anywhere else) and see the sense of entitlement walking around the mission everyday. We are losing the San Francisco we know and love, a historically safe place for progressives, gays and whomever wants to simply be themselves to people who dress and look the same. The main point of us "whiners" is that hey, its a free country, live where you want but please understand that you do have a responsibility in this. And its not ok to not care what is going on in the city.

Posted by SFNative on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 9:36 am

twenty years ago, there were no whites there.

Meanwhile Mission Street and 24th Street have hardly changed at all, and remain shabby and down-at-heel ( I assume that's what you mean by "diverse" i.e. not diverse at all - just poor).

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 10:05 am

Somewhere else it was said that the invasion of the whites to the Mission and Valencia corridors was the precursor to today's hypergentrification.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 10:41 am

Gentrification is an economic re-rating of a neighborhood. At least in theory, that could be achieved by affluent blacks displacing poor whites.

Diversity generally refers to having a mix of races. If a neighborhood changes from being predominantly one race (say, Hispanics) to a mix of races (whites, Asians, Hispanics) like Valencia Street has done then it has become MORE diverse even as it becomes more gentrified.

A dirt-poor area that is 100% Hispanic isn't diverse at all. It's homogeneous.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:00 am

The most Latino census blocks of the Mission were never > 55% Latino over the past three censuses.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:10 am

The Mission is more diverse now than 20 years ago. Economically as well as ethnically.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:26 am

Those census tracts were in the North Mission. The remainder of the Mission had no majority ethnicity.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

talk about how it's Hispanic nature must be preserved is so much sentimental hogwash.

Either the Mission is a center of Hispanic culture that must be preserved, in which case it is not diverse. Or it always was diverse in which case there is no Hispanicity to cherish.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

SOME DOGS famished with hunger saw a number of cowhides steeping
in a river. Not being able to reach them, they agreed to drink
up the river, but it happened that they burst themselves with
drinking long before they reached the hides.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

Latinos have been and continue to be a major component of the Mission, but I agree that the neighborhood has never been exclusively Latino. When Latino "leaders" make claims to speak for Latinos in the Mission, rarely do the Latinos in the Mission pay their leaders much mind.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

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