For a while now, bay area housing activists have been protesting the big tech company’s buses. These buses are like giant limousines that swoosh through the city and shuttle workers down South to work. The tech workers are insulated and come off in this situation like spoiled children. They move into poor areas, drive up rents, and then complain that they must live near poor people. The protests have spread into Oakland and Berkeley and has nothing to do with buses, they are but a symbol for the gentrification. Google in its data driven manner thinks it really is about buses and thinks by switching to yachts the problem will go away, a company that truly does not get it.
Earlier this week activists ratcheted things up a notch by going to the house of a google employee. While they were heavily criticized (mostly by the tech industry), they did get their attention. A much needed conversation has now started, it will be interesting to see how far it goes.
What the tech industry needs to understand is that they need to quickly move beyond talking, or start building barricades and learn to live in cages. I think it would be a far better life to be civically engaged than to need a security detail to move in and out of your own neighborhood. A little less smugness and a little more compassion will go a long way to restoring the balance.
Edit: Today’s proof of tech elite being out of touch: The head of a major Silicon Valley venture capitol firm compares protests against the 1% to the holocaust. What more proof do you need that these folks just don’t get it?