San Francisco has been a tech hub for decades. The city is home to many top crypto companies. Ripple, Coinbase, Solana Labs, Oasis Labs, Anchorage Digital, Venture Aviator, The Black Box, and CoinList all reside there. But his reputation is on a downward spiral as heinous crimes make headlines. Some even wonder if officials are looking elsewhere in the face of rising crime.
Just last week, Bob Lee, the founder of CashApp and former CTO of Square was fatally stabbed in a neighborhood where many crypto industry players do business.
Elon Musk quickly chastised the mayor and the San Francisco Police Department on Twitter for their handling of the city's crime rate. He called the recent violence "horrible".
Crime statistics and the cost of living
If it feels like crime is on the rise after COVID, that's because it is. But that's not the whole story. Violent crime in San Francisco had declined before the pandemic. It fell in 2020, but has since increased by 7.5%. According to the SFPD, violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, assault and human trafficking.
Bob Lee's death appears (based on the facts we have) to be a random act of violence, and it appears that such crimes are on the rise again. Data shows that homicides and assaults have reached pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, rape, robbery and human trafficking are on the decline.
San Francisco has had a notoriously high cost of living for decades. In fact, many people who work in San Francisco cannot even afford to live there. They commute. But lately, some workers have left town for other reasons.
"Especially in recent years, those living outside of San Francisco are likely doing so out of preference rather than affordability," Zac Clark, founder and executive director of the nonprofit HomeMore project, told BeInCrypto. "It's a unique economic model where a lot of our revenue comes from tourists and people living temporarily in San Francisco for work," he added.
Uncontained Crime by Neighborhood
San Francisco is a relatively small city. It covers an area of 46 square miles. Anyone who has walked its streets knows how quickly one neighborhood transforms into another. "In a city as small as San Francisco, there's a huge overlap between 'crime-ridden' areas and areas where crime might not be as prevalent," Clark said. "However, because of this proximity, this hypothetical overlap occurs more often than anywhere else."
Naturally, police presence may increase in neighborhoods with high crime rates. Unfortunately, this won't necessarily prevent attacks from occurring in adjacent spaces.
"Bob Lee was stabbed in an area where some major global corporations call themselves home," Clark said. "If it can happen to him there, it can happen to anyone."
San Francisco and technology
Since the Industrial Revolution, people have moved to cities in hopes of improving their lives. If the promise of success comes with a good chance of harm, people might rethink where they are going. Moreover, no company wants its success to be surrounded by dark headlines. But crime isn't the only reason ambitious companies might want to avoid San Francisco.
In 2018, voters passed Proposition C. The new policy taxes the city's wealthiest corporations and earmarks those funds for homeless services. Although well-intentioned, its effects leave something to be desired.
At the time, Jack Dorsey was outspoken that the tax did not take into account differences between businesses. He wrote on Twitter that the tax would disproportionately affect fintech startups. “Taxes would rise at rates many times our adjusted earnings, which no business can afford,” he added.
But according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city has only spent a quarter of the funds raised in 2022. Clark launched his nonprofit in the wake of the pandemic, two years after the city passed Prop C Obviously, the problem persists. And the only effect of the tax appears to be an undue hardship on businesses.
The future of innovation in San Francisco
“San Francisco has continuously damaged its reputation over the years, from leaders in technology and crypto to the family-run store serving home-cooked food around the corner,” Clark said.
The future of San Francisco's tech and crypto industry is uncertain until it can tackle the crime crisis head-on. "It will take some time for San Francisco to recover from this difficult time," Clark concluded. "I've been saying for years that if San Francisco fixes a few little things, it's going to be the greatest city in the world," he added.
Until then, tech companies and their customers should remain vigilant and aware of the dangers in this once vibrant tech hub.
Following the guidelines of the Project Trust, this feature article presents the opinions and views of experts or individuals in the industry. BeInCrypto is dedicated to transparent reporting, but the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of BeInCrypto or its staff. Readers should independently verify the information and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this content.