The Workpot

San Francisco’s dark side

Walk through downtown San Francisco any night of the week, and you’ll see this tech boomtown’s dark side. Homeless people are everywhere. Some of the billionaires whose businesses have made the city so unconscionably expensive want to do something about it.

Mare Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, the city’s largest private employer, said that top-earning companies with administrative offices in San Francisco should pay a special tax on their gross revenues. The mayor didn’t like this proposal initially; nor did Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, whose firm has benefited from big municipal tax breaks. His objection was that the tax would be based on gross revenues without regard to profits and expenses. But Benioff was unfazed. “These companies made it in San Francisco on the backs of the people of San Francisco” he told Wired. “The companies that have given the least are the ones who are opposing this the most”; Benioff and Dorsey later locked horns on Twitter over the issue. While both said they wanted to fight homelessness, the technicalities of how to raise the money seemed a major hurdle to getting anything done. Meanwhile, this winter, 61 percent of San Franciscans voted to approve the tax, which could raise $300 million a year.

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