Crappies awards rain on tech award show's parade

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in a Walmart logo, on a sign just outside the Crunchies
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

The Crunchies are a San Francisco-based dog and pony show for the tech industry, hosted by technology business news site Tech Crunch. But amid rising San Franciscan anger, this year's Crunchies took on a decidely different tone.

At the outset of last night's [Mon/10] awards ceremony, big-time investor and noted "Godfather of Silicon Valley," Ron Conway, asked a question. "Raise your hand if your company is located in San Francisco," he asked the tech employees gathered in Davies Symphony Hall.

Hundreds of hands rose across the audience. That's San Francisco's point of pride, and point of contention. Techies bring jobs and growth, supposedly, to the city, but also all the side effects thereof: a housing crisis, mass evictions, overpriced toast, rising unrest. Even the Crunchies' opener and host, comedian John Oliver (of Daily Show fame), took it to the techies of the city.

"You're no longer the underdogs! It's very important you realize that," he said to the crowd, roasting the attendees who still laughed anyway. He even brought the Google buses into the mix. "Now you're pissing off an entire city, not just what with what you do at work but how you get to work. It's not easy to do that!"

Cue the Crappies, the awards ceremony for the rest of us. Hosted on the sidewalk just outside the Crunchies, the Crappies highlighted folks in tech most responsible for turning San Francisco into a playland for the rich, as opposed to a hometown for families, and put them on blast. 

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was named Best Tax Evader of the Year, in honor of the now estimated $55 million Twitter local tax break championed by Mayor Ed Lee. The man who confused attacks on the 1 percent with Nazi Germany, Tom Perkins, was honored for Diarrhea of the Mouth. Google was honored for driving a Bus in a Bubble. Ron Conway, the angel investor who invested early in companies like AskJeeves and Twitter, was named Angel of Death. 

Understandably, none of the actual folks awarded came to pick up their colorfully painted plungers, the trophy Crappy award winners were handed. Local activist Tony Robles dressed in a cape, reminscent of a vampire. People posed as their favorite tech evil-doers. 

Attendance was sparse at about 50 folks or so, but the political theater played just outside Davies Symphony Hall, well within view of tech employees lining up for their gleaming, red-carpet ceremony.

"I think they were confused and didn't want anything to do with what we were doing," Erin McElroy, a tenants rights activist and event organizer, told us.

An audio interview with protest co-organizer Erin McElroy.

Inside the event, techies dressed in bowties and lavish dresses posed for pictures. Camera in hand, this Guardian reporter was mistaken for an event photographer, and we started to ask attendees (after clarifying we were a reporter) what they thought of the protest outside.

The opinions were decidedly mixed. There were certainly sentiments shrugging off the protest as typical San Francisco antics, but tech workers from outside San Francisco tended to be more sympathetic.

All companies should be civically minded, said Shinta Dhanuwardoyo, CEO and founder of bubu, a tech oriented ad agency. "It doesn't have to be just tech," she said.

Tech isn't responsible for all the city's ails and ills, another attendee told us, but maybe there's a middle ground. "Just paying attention, help and not just trying to make cool stuff, maybe they should," said Aryo Ariotedjo, CEO and co-founder of footwear design website Project Shoe.

But still, some tech folks still aren't getting the message. They reduce protests to simple ideas, like tech hatred, or think that tech is already doing more than enough to help. Silicon Valley news site Venture Beat said the anger against Conway, for example, was misplaced.

"Meanwhile, inside Davies Symphony Hall, Conway delivered a heartfelt speech about the need for tech companies and employees to give back to the community, and pledged $12,000 in matching funds for a fundraiser for nonprofits," they wrote, calling out the Crappies for not recognizing his civic-mindedness.

Its thesis that $12,000 towards nonprofits could make up for the lost homes of hundreds of San Franciscans, or the painful cost of living increases for middle and low income families affected by the tech boom, is questionable, to say the least. 


A protester holds a sign asking the tech industry to take responsibility for their impact to San Francisco. Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez.

At the end of the day, demonizing tech was not the goal protest organizer Erin McElroy worked towards, she said. Put simply, she just wants tech workers to wake up, to pitch in, and become part of the community. 

"We're really not trying to pivot ourselves against tech workers, but it's up to those workers to open their eyes to what's going on," McElroy told us after the event. Displacement and rising costs are tied to tech's presence, and they should pitch in where they can, she said.

"They could protest with us, or come to a tenants' rights meetings," she said. "They could make conscious efforts not to move in where someone was evicted. There's so many things they could do, and that's one of the things we're trying to convey."

The conversation between tech and the community is evolving, and soon there may be hope of real solutions. The Mission District has played host to a series of dinners allowing dicussion between tech and long time residents, and an upcoming Tech Workers Against Displacement Happy Hour touts its goal to "create an open discussion on how improved communication and collaboration can affect reforms needed to stop involuntary displacements of longterm San Franciscans and ensure sustainable, cohesive and diverse communities."

One can only hope tech workers get the message: join the cause. Unite with the communities of San Francisco, and work together to stop displacement.  


She moved here three years ago from the East Coast, got her anthropology degree (after first getting a BA in Art) and now is an expert in City Planning and Housing Policy. Quite an amazing young lady.

I am guessing that after she makes a further mess of things here, she will skedaddle either back to where she came from or perhaps the suburbs and join Chris Daly in activist retirement. Maybe she can rent a house from Chris in Fairfield.

Old Time San Franciscans like me have seen her type come through again and again. This is just a playground for her, but some of us are trying to raise our families here.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

and she's already dictating to everyone else how to live their lives. Sounds like she's got a great start in progressive politics in SF. She can join other carpetbaggers like Jane Kim, David Campos and John Avalos.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Chris Daly, Steve Jones, Bruce Brugman, Ross Mirkarimi, Tim Redmond, David Campos, John Avalos etc...

Posted by guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

I'm proud of being a transplant. I don't live here because I just "happened" to pop out on this piece of dirt, or because my daddy left me some real estate and it happened to be here and not somewhere else. I came here because I CHOSE to be here, because it's the only place in this country that I can call home. And I know that many young idealistic activists feel the same way. They fight for this city because it's not just another place to them. It's home. I'm glad they're here. They make this city a better place. People like them are why I choose to live here. They may eventually leave, but not because they want to. I think most of them would love to stay, but it's too damn expensive to make a go of it if you don't have inherited wealth/real estate. I find it distasteful that some people, usually long term property owners who are parasitically underpaying property taxes by huge amounts, sit there from the comfort of their private homes disparaging people who love this city, fight to make it better, but are struggling to get by because they don't have the same advantages you do. None of you give a damn about those who struggle to survive in this pressure cooker. You have no idea what it's like, and you don't care. All you know how to do is hate.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

I grew up poorer than you Greg, I can just about guarantee it. You really don't have any idea where I am coming from.

And I think Prop 13 stinks, even though I benefit from it.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

how to live and are bitter that other do same.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 8:15 am

Interesting. I am a local. I'm not a hippie. No one is telling anybody how to live. They're trying to make SF better for everyone, and far from being bitter, I appreciate their efforts.

You can't hide, matlock.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:13 am

Why is it so important that your rent be subsidized so that you can stay here?

It's nice that you want to be here but so what? Where's the value add that justifie it being public policy to subsidize someone like you?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:31 am

I'm not on Section 8, which is the only true "subsidy" that I know of for renters. I subsidize my landlord's lifestyle -in their case, I'm subsidizing their retirement. I work, so that my landlord doesn't have to.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

de facto subsidy from your landlord.

Why should public policy favor that? What do I gain from having you in SF over someone willing to pay their own way?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

If I enter into a legal agreement with a landlord that I will rent an apartment at a price that he/she deems to be market rate, and then have it adjusted for inflation thereafter, then how is the landlord somehow subsidizing me by living up to that agreement?

They gave up the opportunity cost of speculating on higher rents but they are still getting what they agreed to on an inflation adjusted basis

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

is typically 12 months in the US.

Normally you would then be offered a new lease at a new rent. But SF forces the lease to be permanent, and allows only trivial increases in the rent.

The longer you are there, the longer the subsidy becomes, the subsidy being the income foregone by the property owner.

It's a not a subsidy from the government. It is a government from the property owner.

And eventually the gap becomes so large that the owner Ellis'es you because the owner can no longer regard his investment as viable.,

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

Thanks for the explanation. It's a shame that the landlord didn't know about rent control when he/she purchased a rental property in San Francisco. They probably could have negotiated a better price.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

guess your argument is that they should not whine when they get evicted.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

Yes, I agree. Every rent controlled tenant should be constantly re accessing their landlord's motivation and ability to Ellis. I happen to live in a place that would be a major, very expensive PITA to Ellis.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

And since there is no legal defense, the legal costs are predictable too.

Likewise, it's not hard to figure how probable an Ellis is going to be. Just look at the rents in the building. If they are all less than 50% of market, you're at risk.

25% of market, it's a near certainty.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

Now innocent San Franciscans have to pay to cover some newbie landlord's poor business sense.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

WILL be Ellis'ed, and it really doesn't matter who owns it.

Those tenants knew the risk of Ellis when they rented. So why did they have such poor business sense to rent it anyway? When they could rented in a building with less risk of Ellis?

Tenants, always compute the probability of Ellis before taking a place. If all your neighbors are freeloaders and lifers, be afraid.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

You mean tenants who didn't do their due diligence? That's not innocence. That's risky behavior.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

Anyone can call themselves anything - this is an anonymous chatroom.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:32 am

After your masters reworked the interface I could no longer post using my advanced naming conceptual framework.

And of course progressives want to tell people how to live, how you think otherwise is a preposterous statement on your part.

Remember Greg, you may be the next kicked off the progressive island..

Posted by guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:29 am

And the work they're doing makes the whole city a better place. Unlike the bloodsucker rentier class who live off the labor of others.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

so that you can have a home? Is that a valueless activity?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

Blocking Google Buses, talking to journalists and throwing parties is not really my idea of work. Though I guess you could argue that it is, since it presumably benefits society.

I have done some activist stuff before I had kids, I thought it was fun and exciting, but I never considered it work.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

Scott Wiener, Ron Conway, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Dick Costolo, Marc Benioff, Marc Pincus, Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick, Logan Green, John Zimmer...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

Artist Resume

Erin McElroy’s scholarship, art, and activism focuses upon deconstructing systems of dispossession in postcolonial and postnational contexts – in Romania, the United States, and Western Europe. In Romania, McElroy is interested in studying formations of xenophobia that lead to the eviction and ghettoization of Roma communities, formations that instigate internal displacement within the state and increased migration to Western European spaces, where other enactments of violence transpire. McElroy explores the ways in which historically nomadic communities are racialized and sexualized as threatening the paternal logos of sedentary and settler normativity. In the US, McElroy co-convenes the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a collaborative effort making visible what gentrification and forced evictions seek to invisibilize, utilizing GIS mapping, digital storytelling, and oral history. McElroy also teaches an ongoing class at CounterPulse on modern yoga, liberalism, colonialism, and cultural appropriation. McElroy earned a MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2011, and a BA in Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies from Hampshire College in 2004.


As Spiro Agnew once said nattering nabobery

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 8:51 am

LOLz - she never got a single grade as both schools don't provide "grades" which are, after all, outmoded sexist & colonialist attempts at commodifying wimmin's work.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

Says more about her than what any grades may have ever said.

No sane person would hire anyone that uses that post modern anti-sense bullshit seriously.


Posted by guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

You missed your true calling. You would have made a good studio spy or HUAC investigator.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

Poor Greg, mocking idiots is different than your obsession around who deserves to live in San Francisco.

Posted by guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 9:49 am

Poor Matlock, with his nervous ticks and nonsensical prose.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 11:21 am

to judge who lives in San Francisco.

Can you pass the Greg test?

Posted by guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

Gah! Thanks for sharing! What a maroon! Everyone hates the fuckin Gypsies in Europe and wherever else they are. I love how she strings terms together she read about in sociology class and assumes its "Romanian xenophobia" that's the source of the gypsies' plight!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 1:22 am

I read her bit it as "I wrote some doggerel prose with non words strung together making little sense, look at me!!!"

There was something political in there somewhere? Who knew?

Posted by guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 10:27 am

Gah! Thanks for sharing! What a maroon! Everyone hates the fuckin Gypsies in Europe and wherever else they are. I love how she strings terms together she read about in sociology class and assumes its "Romanian xenophobia" that's the source of the gypsies' plight!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 1:23 am

"Its thesis that $12,000 towards nonprofits could make up for the lost homes of hundreds of San Franciscans, or the painful cost of living increases for middle and low income families affected by the tech boom, is questionable, to say the least. "

So just what is YOUR thesis? That any effort that doesn't completely make up for all of those issues in one swoop isn't worth taking? That it's all or nothing when it comes to help? No increments allowed?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

BG thesis: You have lots of money and we don't. So you should give us as much as we need (want). We feel we should be able to live where we want (despite not being able to afford it) and get the pay that we think we deserve (regardless of the fact that the market vehemently disagrees with us).

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

Oh I forgot one other thing. Live where I want, for whatever I want to pay, and if it's more than that, someone needs to subsidize the difference.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

It's like being a kid again, with mom and pop giving them everything.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

You come here for a few years, hook up with a significant other and then move back to were you came from. While here you vote for the biggest dumb progressive dreamer, thus ruining it for everyone else, then when you pop out a few kids and want to send them to public school on SF's public transit you beat it back to where you came from... Because you don't want to suffer the effects of your voting and screaming.

Posted by guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

These Crappies are the one thing less relevant than the Crunchies

Posted by SFRealist on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 7:48 am

One of the Crappies organizers is Gordon Mar...Supervisor Eric Mar's brother.

Union shill and professional protestor.

It runs in the family.

Posted by Guest-SF on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:05 am

entitlement. Whatever they want, they get.

And that is why they love rent control, because it gives them something for nothing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:34 am

Chris Daly does not have a trust fund. What makes you think Erin does? I am curious how she pays the bills though.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:58 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

Screw this ellis act crisis business, we have a crisis of douche activists

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:29 am

They both come to SF because it is the only city that will tolerate them.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:40 am

Erin etc. has one skill - the ability to make a minority fringe opinion sound like it is a majority opinion, if only because the press lap this shit up instead of ignoring it as every other city does.

Each eviction reduces the number of RC units and no new ones are being created. already less than 50% of SF homes are rent controlled and that percentage will drop every year until this is a non-issue.

Then the SF demographics will have changed so much we'll never hear about it again. Oakland, OTOH, will become even worse, but they are ehading for bankruptcy anyway, so screw them.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:53 am

erin is my hero!!!!

Posted by Guest eliza on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:58 am

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