Anti-Tech Protests Just Another Advertising Opportunity for Start-Ups

On a patch of sidewalk sandwiched between City Hall and The Crunchies, the tech industry's masturbatory answer to the Grammy's, about three dozen protesters held their own award ceremony.

Christened “The Crappies,” protesters handed out the prized Toilet Brush Trophy for categories ranging from the “Tax Evader Award” (Twitter) to the “Peter Shih Diarrhea of the Mouth Award” (Tom Perkins).  Entertainment included an audience sing-a-long to 2pac's Gangsta Party, with the updated lyrics “Ain't nothing like a tax-free party / Ain't nothing like a tech-bus party.”

It was amusing street theater, but it was mostly for the cameras—by the time the Crappies began flushing, the long line of Crunchie attendees that could have provided meat for confrontation had long been let into the Davies Symphony Hall.

And that was exactly the point for

As TV crews shined the spotlight on a Dick Costolo impersonator, two low-rent TaskRabbits waved QR codes linking to the start-up's website behind the ceremony.  In total, the company sent five people to the protest to promote it—two $25 TaskRabbits, two employees, and one photographer to document their stunt.

During the protest, they waved their signs around without much trouble.  But as the Crappies came to a close, word started going around they were promoting a “Pinterest for clothing,” and they retreated slightly towards the guarded entrance.  So after identifying myself as a reporter for the SF Weekly, they let down their guard and started talking.

“Why are you promoting a fashion start-up here?”

“Because we think they should dress better!,” shouted one of the self-identified employees, pointing in the direction a protester dressed as a vampire.

Before saying anything truly stupid, another more savvy employee jumped in.

“We're here because the cameras are here.”

“But why here?,” suggesting there are cameras in a lot of different places.

“We saw their protest on Facebook, and it's funny they're using the tools of tech and protesting tech.”

And that's it in a nutshell.  Just another media op, and an opportunity to say fuck you under the guise of chastising hypocrisy.

Comments (42)

I’m not sure what the issue is with tech workers. I don’t know if you want them to feel guilty for going to engineering school? If you’re mad about the busing situation, why not start a petition to put up a ballot measure to force company buses to only pick people up at defined bus stops. For instance, only at the temporary transbay terminal, and maybe a few more stops. You’d see a lot of people move out of the Mission if they couldn’t walk 2 blocks to a bus stop.

Otherwise, I don’t see the issue here.

That’s a good point about defining where the buses can stop. But if you’re wondering who gives tech workers a bad name, take a look at “You“ ‘s post about 3 threads down. It’s pretty arrogant.

While this comment seems more directed to the protesters than the post itself, I had two reactions to the SV types advertising their start-up at a housing/anti-tech rally:

1) It was amusing because of the irony.

2) It’s exemplary of the industry’s callousness and hubris that people find so objectionable. They’re effectively mocking protesters who are reacting to being priced out, while earning millions themselves. Punching down is never admirable.

I have no knowledge of the startup these people were involved in, but I can’t imagine they are ‘earning millions.’
It’s kind of funny, back when I first came to the bay area to begin college in 2003, I remember in the mission people kind of had respect for start up software developers. The bubble had blown up, and what was left were small groups of people trying to fight against big technology corporations like Microsoft to create interesting products. It was very counter-culture and I frankly don’t remember any animosity towards them. Seemed very SF to have a class of people trying to create new things in little groups. I mean I heard stories of the late 90s, when gentrification in the mission was also bad and protestors railed against techies, when the radical art house 47 Clarion got demolished for Condos in 2001, I heard all about that from people. But in 2003 that was over.

I guess now it’s back. Like I said, if people want to stop bussing just start a ballot initiative, I guarantee you could get the required number of signatures. Probably just by hanging out on exclusively Mission street to be honest.

This is a good point but the term that sticks out here is counter-culture. What once may have been a group of like-minded people trying to fight against larger tech corporations is now people simply piling on to get rich quick. There’s no conviction, it’s all about money and 27 year olds labeling themselves “entrepreneurs”. I’m all for the artistry of design, especially when it’s DIY and the end game is more than just padding your pockets, but I think that was lost awhile back.

They were advertising (counter protesting?) as a company, not individuals. Their parent company is 50 Cubes, which is fundraising capital, probably at million+ quantities (as is common these days). Also, their client/sponsor list, plus their suite of apps, likely rakes in good money.

Besides, “earning millions” is the goal of these types start-ups. I don’t believe for a second these guys are out there for anything but the gold.

” They’re effectively mocking protesters who are reacting to being priced out, while earning millions themselves.”

MILLIONS. Yea. If by “above SF median income” you mean “millions”, I suppose. Keep on fanning those flames, Kev Mo.

“two low-rent TaskRabbits waved QR codes linking to the start-up’s website behind the ceremony. In total, the company sent five people to the protest to promote it–two $25 TaskRabbits, two employees, and one photographer to document their stunt.”

Just curious, did these employees from TaskRabbit verify that they were indeed TaskRabbit employees. If so, has it been verified that they were sent BY the company? Could be more political theatre like the fake Google Employee at the bus protest, especially considering they brought along someone to film it.

maybe if tech workers weren’t such boring , narrowminded dicks who invent crappy apps and pay too much for toast, people wouldn’t protest them. also they aren’t really making anything, just ad platforms to sell more crappy McDonalds burgers. They aren’t curing AIDS or making us flying cars or inventing new devices to nuke the commies.

Wow thanks man. I never realized it could be so much worse. That’s my new line: “oh yeah, this is bad? You realize 40 years ago these people would have been developing nukes, right?”


Engineering is more art than science. Idiots will never comprehend.

Old school artists complaining about the lack of artists in the city is like newspapers complaining about the print newspapers downfall.

Move on.

Wow! You must be immortal, God-like! You shall never age!

For You are immortal!

For You have seen the future!

For Your job may never be out sourced!

For You shall always be young and sweet smelling and good tasting!

For Your skill set will never become obsolete!

For You do not stand on the shoulders of giants!

For You have built Your own home with Your own hands!

For You weave and stitch Your own clothes!

For You make all Your own food!

For You make all Your own content!

For You are Your own content, and excrement!

For You drive Your own bus!

For You educated Yourself alone, so alone!

For You teach all to Your own children!

For You shine so bright and so dim there is no reflection!

For You are all!

For You are the one who buys all Your own product!

For Your Art is too last!

For Your Art is without comparison!

For Your Art is without precedent!

For You there must be economic disparity!

For You speak for all tech workers?

You made me masturbate to this. Thank YOU.

I’m just talking about “You”. I don’t mean all tech workers. I’m sure there are a lot who are capable of self reflection *and* looking beyond themselves and their current circumstances.

Artists are way more fun than engineers.

“We saw their protest on Facebook, and it’s funny they’re using the tools of tech…”

Let’s all be honest with ourselves, this continues to be hilarious. I realize the simple existence of sites likes Facebook is not the reason for protest, but you’d think out of sheer principle these people would find another medium to organize. I’m just your average, run of the mill, anti-tech dude who, at worst, will make half-serious rants on message boards and give the workers dirty looks as they exit their giant white carriages onto Divis, but even I have enough sense to stop using their products if I am so against the company’s practices.

FB and Twitter are amazing tools for social organizing. They’re amazing for distributing information. That’s very true.

But if your against *some* of the companies practices and not the distribution of information, why wouldn’t use their own tools to protest the companies?

There are plenty of other mediums, is my point. Maybe this is just me, but, if I felt the need to take to the streets to protest the practices of any organization, I sure as hell wouldn’t be caught using their platform. Continue giving these companies you’re so against X amount of web hits per day with protest group event pages…makes total sense. I understand there are instances where avoidance isn’t possible, but not in the case of Facebook and Twitter…those are conscious choices.

People are still connected without these websites, believe it or not…an e-mail chain would be just as effective…though, I’m sure most of those addresses would end in

I second m’s comment. Nothing beats personal contact as an organizing tactic. Face to face is best, then telephone call, then email, then the rest…

I cringe when an organization uses a Facebook page to announce an event. Sometimes, you have to log in to see the information, which eliminates the 30% of people, including me, who aren’t on Facebook. More importantly, Facebook provides a map to the authorities. They may not use it now, but they will when they want or need to. And of course, why pay for your own displacement by using tech’s unnecessary products?

Twitter I just don’t get. It seems difficult to use and likely to fail.

I see this argument a lot, and it sounds good, but doesn’t hold up well. Should people not be able to protest big banks because they have a bank account? That’s the most obvious example, but there’s a whole host of others (especially in monopolistic situations): Protest Comcast’s stance on net neutrality while being a customer? Opposition to capitalism but still spend money? How many champions of Bitcoin still hold cash? Protesting the mayoralty of Ed Lee but continuing the live in SF (“Well why don’t you just leave?!”)? I could go on…

It’s easier to point out of the hypocrisies of the activist and use them to discredit all their points than seriously consider their objections. Ultimately, many of these companies have effective monopolies on their channels of communication (for organizing, their competitors offer inferior services by way of limited userbases/reach). Besides, all of these protests and promoted/organized on a variety of mediums, Facebook is just one of them.

Social media is not a necessary component for effective organizing. It is just one tool in the toolbox and because it is relatively new, its effectiveness is overrated. It is a more effective means of social control than of social change.

If you are that actively and vehemently opposed to something, I just can’t understand the purpose of continued use. Big banks? Transfer to a credit union - many people do it. That’s an easy one. Some of your other examples are somewhat unavoidable to just (Comcast, somewhat unavoidable….Ed Lee / leaving SF - I realize this comment isn’t entirely serious).

You’re acting as if Facebook and Twitter are the sole means of communication and that’s a scary opinion.

As I said, there are plenty of other mediums yet many people continue to use Facebook and Twitter as outlets simply because it requires the least amount of effort to organize…despite the fact that it is essentially contributing to higher revenues (though marginal) for these companies that the protestors are so against.

I’m not trying to discredit their opinions toward the companies at all - I likely agree with a lot of them. I just find it silly that they are seemingly so reliant on these websites while at the same time being so against them.

This is the dumbest argument ever. You can be against the NSA and still live in America. You don’t have to to not use something because you don’t completely like it or agree with it.

People really need to learn what rhetorical irony and hypocrisy is.

Please - explain the irony here that doesn’t end in web clicks and ad revenue for these “evil” tech companies.

Also, using the NSA as a basis of comparison for the particular points in this discussion is a pretty big stretch.

Using tech (or oil, etc.) doesn’t preclude you from criticizing the industry that produces it. But it does mean you aren’t in any particular place to claim a moral high ground or superiority over those working in that industry - people who are in the same society and economic system you are in, and doing their best with the resources they have. So if you use tech companies’ tools and then “give the workers dirty looks as they exit their giant white carriages onto Divis”, then yeah, there’s hypocrisy there.

I never claimed to be innocent of hypocrisy but I’m also not assembling on the street to protest anything. Also, I do not have a Twitter account and my Facebook account has been deactivated for awhile (only to be reactivated for the occasional Tinder use because why the hell not?).

Do you vote?

Drunk on line…. that was an a-hole comment. Sorry. I disagree with your view on using social media, but you’re obviously thoughtful. I apologize.

What I really mean to say is you should come out and get involved. Or just stay informed and vote.

Once again, I apologize.

I should get involved - you’re right (no sarcasm). There is a bit of self-loathing related to my general laziness.

I’ve been there. Basically all it takes to get involved is showing up to 1 or 2 protests, board supervisor meetings, or organizing meetings a month, for maybe 2 hours tops.

It’s a numbers game, the more people the better. I show up, look awkward for awhile, lend my voice, and leave a bit more informed and then go to the next one I can make.

It’s just showing up to the first 2 you’re going to then it feels easier.

Reminds me of the activists wearing American Apparel tees while protesting the opening of the shop on Valencia St.

I totally agree…

Got a problem with Wall Street? The Federal Reserve? WHY ARE YOU USING CURRENCY HYPOCRITE?

This might be a clever way to advertise in an alternate universe where people actually use QR codes.

I am certain that all the protesters will be checking the comments here to make sure that they are following all the random half assed rules handed down by a bunch of nut sucklers that disagree with them to such an irrational degree that there is zero possibility your considering any opinion other than your own.
So by all means, angry losers of the internets, keep huffing all your hot sad empty opinions about how people who do things that have an effect in the real world need to stop and listen to your pathetic mewlings and just please knock it off because it’s physically painful to some hunk of dead internet skin like yourself to admit that you’ve made a choice to be a miserable piece of shit, as evidenced by the existence of so many other people who have chosen differently.

Responses like this only confirm and strengthen hatred towards techie yuppies.

Like Ian MacKaye said: BARF ME OUT TO THE MAX!

A Pinterest for clothing already exists. It’s called Pinterest.

Kevin and Eric: hipster-teabaggers extraordinaire