Techpreneur's Friends Won't Let Him Retract His Facebook Rant Calling SF's Destitute 'Trash'
At 7 miles by 7 miles, it seems San Francisco may not be big enough for both the haves and the have-nots. At least not according to Greg Gopman, founder of AngelHack, the world's largest hackathon competition, who found himself in hot water this week when he went on a Facebook rant about the state of the city's downtown district, and the number of homeless people on the city streets.
"Just got back to SF," the Facebook post began. "I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little."
The rant continued with what has become the most oft-quoted bit of ill-conceived text, in which Gopman says "There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us."
His comments have come the same week that an anti-gentrification protest rocked San Francisco, and caused a viral stir when a union leade, posing as a Google employee, staged an altercation with the protesters. His statement that those who can't afford the city's rising rent "should go to a city where they can afford it" was taken at face value, and even after his hoax was exposed, many said it was an accurate depiction of the callousness of the the techneratti.
After Gopman's post was picked up by a couple Bay area news outlets, public outrage forced Gopman to issue the equivalent of a public statement in the Internet age, deleting the status and posting an apology.
"Last night, I made inappropriate comments about San Francisco and its less fortunate citizens on Market St.," he wrote. "I'm really sorry for my comments. I trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn’t have. I hope this thread can help start an open discuss on what changes we can make to fix these serious problems. Again, I am deeply sorry."
The apology status, however, prompted many of Gopman's friends to come out in his support, defending his original hobo-phobic rant and urging him to stand by his statements in an effort to get the poor out for good. But his were quick to point out that Gopman is, in a city filled with Silicon Valley bleed-over, one of the tech citizens with remarkably little to offer the culture, as the extent of his work begins and ends largely with his curating a yearly hacker event.
Sam Biddle of Valleywag was quick to point out that for someone who is urging the city to better present itself and clean up the "disruption" that is its homeless population, he himself is doing very little to add value to the world.
Still, Gopman's statement signals a rising tension with the city's citizens, as tech companies are finding more and more of their employees to be turning to San Francisco as an extension of their work capsules, leaving many others out on the street—literally.