| SAN FRANCISCO, June 9
SAN FRANCISCO, June 9 Ongoing tensions over how
to handle social inequality in San Francisco sparked an a rare
outburst among venture capitalists Monday.
Facebook Inc executive-turned-venture capitalist
Chamath Palihapitiya called for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to
resign due to a "very stupid city government," spurring fellow
venture capitalist Ron Conway to jump to his feet and start
"How dare you!" shouted Conway from the rear of the
auditorium at the end of a discussion on inequality at
Bloomberg's Next Big Thing conference, held at an exclusive
resort just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
The city's role in bolstering technology, including giving
tax breaks to Twitter Inc and other companies, has come
under fire in recent months as complaints rise about income
inequality. Many city residents blame a growing wealth gap on
large technology industry salaries.
On Monday, disagreements over who to hold responsible came
to a head as Palihapitiya told a roomful of executives that the
city did not focus enough on its problems and blamed a "really,
really, really broken political system."
Asked twice by moderator Emily Chang if the tech industry
should take any responsibility, Palihapitiya first said the
industry's "spillover effect" should be weighed. One study from
the University of California, Berkeley, concludes that each San
Francisco technology job creates five more jobs.
"Having these expectations, it's kind of a false trade off,"
he then said. Palihapitiya lives in Palo Alto, in the heart of
By contrast, Conway, who helped elect Lee, lives in San
Francisco and leads Sf.citi, a group of technology companies
that is trying to tackle problems such as affordable housing and
"He is doing something," Conway shouted at Palihapitiya,
referring to the mayor who Palihapitiya had said led a group of
"ineffective or dumb" workers in city government. A spokeswoman
for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.
Until Monday, such outbursts remained the province of
demonstrators, who in recent months have taken to the streets
and blocked commuter buses from moving. The buses, operated by
companies such as Facebook and Google, ferry workers who live in
San Francisco to jobs at companies 30 or 40 miles away in
Palihapitiya, who grew up in Canada in a family of Sri
Lankan immigrants, said those protests "weren't cool."
He also called for the city to take a 1 percent equity stake
in any technology company in return for city incentives such as
Palihapitiya is a partial owner of the Golden State Warriors
basketball team, whose plan to build a new arena on the site of
two city piers was derailed earlier this year, partly because of
"If we had waited for the city, it would have been like
waiting for Godot," Palihapitiya said, referring to the
never-arriving character in the existential novel by Samuel
Conway said the mayor was working on the city's problems,
including creating more affordable housing.
"Maybe you could donate some," he suggested to Palihapitiya.
(Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Richard Chang)