Douchebaggery

God Bless America

Crowdfunding Meets House Flipping in San Francisco

Have the stomach to evict-and-flip in the Bay Area but not the money? Well then San Francisco-based Tycoon Real Estate has a deal for you!

Thanks to 2011’s JOBS Act, restrictions on foreign investment in American real estate and minimum limits on investment buy-ins were eased, effectively allowing a new class of “crowdfunded” capital campaigns for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Previously, if you wanted to buy in to private equity investments like REITs, you had to be an accredited investor with the SEC which meant having $1 million net worth or $200,000 in income over the previous two years.  Not anymore!  Not only can REITs now leverage investment from more investors (up to a maximum of 2,000, up from 500), restrictions on advertising these investments to the public have also been eased.

Long story short? Now small-time investors can buy in to residential and commercial property deals for the first time. Not since online brokerages opened up the day-trading market have bankers had an opportunity to milk a public with less access to information and legal protection once things inevitably go belly-up. Except unlike the day traders (a number of whom committed suicide when the dot-bomb hit), since REITs are private equity investments they aren’t subject to the myriad financial disclosure rules that public companies are, meaning small investors have even less information on which to estimate risk.

So with $1,000 you can’t actually buy in to much actual housing for yourself in San Francisco, but you can buy in to a “Tech incubator, accelerator, shared working/living space.” Certainly this will end well! Or, as Business Insider laments:

Tycoon Real Estate is still pretty small, with just a few dozen deals available on it right now.

If it gets big and starts funneling even more capital into the San Francisco real estate market, all those people throwing rocks at Google buses and whining about rents are certainly going to come after the startup, accusing it of fueling an already dangerous bubble.

Yes. Quite.

[h/t @SFBayAreaEcon]

The Glasstudent Becomes The Glassmaster

How to Know When You Can Call the Cops on a Glasshole

Michele Bachmann: Glasshole

Google Glass is ugly, expensive and, at best, semi-useful, but it’s also new, rare and exclusive, which makes it catnip to the inordinately entitled. Unfortunately, saying “no” to the inordinately entitled triggers their equally over-developed persecution complex. So after yet another Glasshole was kicked out of a local business because it made the otherwise warm, friendly folks at Grand Coffee uncomfortable, he suggested that Google start running television commercials to show how awesome Glass is so he won’t have to face “fear, uncertainty and doubt.”

Yes, Google customer Steven Mautone is asking the company to mount a major media campaign to educate the proles so that a handful of wealthy people with terrible taste won’t occasionally be excluded from social settings. Instead, what Google has done is create an etiquette guide which “Explorers” like Mautone may have read but which he seems to have trouble understanding.

For example? One of the tips is “respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy.” Mautone originally wrote on his blog, Living Thru Glass, that “the first thing I asked [Grand Coffee’s] manager was: ‘Have you ever worn Glass? Do you know what it’s all about?’” But later, in a Google+ thread (naturally), he admitted to fellow Glassholes that “I honestly didn’t know what to say at first. My response was ‘are you serious?’” Certainly not the first time that a Glasshole has desperately tried to make themselves seem more sympathetic.

What Google’s guide doesn’t do is clarify anyone’s rights under the law. For instance, while it’s true that you are allowed to take photographs of anything that’s in plain view from a public space, including people, “When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which continues, “If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).”

So the fine folks at Grand Coffee are completely within their rights to refuse service to Glassholes, and to call the cops if the Glasshole throws a temper tantrum.

Google also helpfully suggests that Explorers “ask for permission” before “standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass.” The fact Google has to write that down for users a year after the product was released says more about what Glassholes must be like as a class more succinctly than I ever could.

What the company doesn’t mention is that in California, standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass could land you in jail. As the Digital Media Law Project explains, “California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.” They continue:

If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you’re recording may or may not have “an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation,” and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances. Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.

Over at Slow News Day, Beth Spotswood asks “is there a line when it’s cool and when it’s not?” Well, recording people at a business with a stated policy banning photography, such as at the Zeitgeist, could provide such “an objectively reasonable expectation” that they won’t be subject to electronic eavesdropping. Or maybe not! So no, there is no bright line as my lawyer friend would say. It’s decided on a case-by-case basis, so pushing the issue could take you from creepy to court proceedings faster than you can say “Glass, search for criminal defense attorneys.”

In the aforementioned Google+ thread, Mautone’s fellow Glasshole Stephen Cerutti has already suggested that someone create an app to track businesses that don’t allow patrons wearing devices on their face capable of secretly recording employees and customers. And by “someone,” I have to presume he means “someone else,” because did I mention inordinately entitled?

Let Them Eat Apps

Facebook Investor Says Site Really Takes the Edge Off Global Capitalism

Look, Silicon Valley, if you don’t want to be seen as entitled shitheels with a severe empathy defficiency, don’t let arch-libertarian and critic of women’s suffrage Peter Thiel off the Seastead, not even to talk to Forbes“I think generally there’s a trend toward equality in the sense that everyone has access to Facebook and Dropbox and LinkedIn and all these services.” He went on to argue that the depression in wages due to globalization is the real problem, not technology. I’d like to propose we’re getting fucked both ways at the same time.

Speaking of games that aren’t zero-sum: Pretty sure we can make fun of bros for their questionable fashion sense and their terrible ideas simultaneously as well. It’s called multitasking.

Thiel also had high praise for WhatsApp co-founder and likely billionaire Jan Koum for “heroically” escaping the “welfare trap,” which Forbes detailed in “The Rags-To-Riches Tale Of How Jan Koum Built WhatsApp Into Facebook’s New $19 Billion Baby.” Would you like another anecdote that’s not actually indicative of aggregate social mobility trends? Okay, how about Marc Roth, a formerly homeless man who found work with skills learned at TechShop, where “I was thinking this is where I’m going to sit and send out resumes and have coffee and warmth.” All due respect to TechShop, Marc Roth and, for that matter, Jan Koum—I’ve been as close to homeless as no one wants to be; I have relied on city, state and federal social programs; it is pretty shitty and you can’t fault anyone for wanting to escape—but a few blocks away the DPW is reportedly hosing people down again and the San Francisco Public Library considers increasing the penalty for having a “strong oder” at Mayor Ed Lee’s request.

So naturally it makes perfect sense that Greg Gopman is considering a run for political office.

Photos by David Orban and Flickr user The Pageman

Dear Sucker

San Franciscans Wait Two Hours in the Rain For Day-Old New York Bagels

Photo by @marmotilla

San Francisco reached peak pop-up pretentiousness this morning as throngs of bored foodies waited for “nearly two hours” for day-old New York bagels.

Taking place at Dear Mom, the Mission’s magnet of mediocrity, budding restauranteurs importers Sonya Haines and Wes Rowe unveiled their “Eastside Bagels” hustle, which sees Russ & Daughters bagels flown in from New York and flipped for $6 (bagel with cream cheese) to $12 (full bagel sandwich).  According to tweets from Andy Cooper, who suffered through the humiliation so we didn’t have to, the entire ordeal was a pointless exercise in doom and decadence:

 

The news of slow service and sell-outs led to an artisan riot, as moist customers raised their decorative pitchforks and hurled mildly-restrained criticism at the non-chefs.  Some poor schmuck even came up from San Jose, much to her frowny face:

While we’ve become dizzy with all the eye-rolling, we cannot help be impressed by the brilliance of this pop-up and its ability to lure people into the most degrading “yuppie bread line” possible.  Here are some other pop-up ideas to subsidize your next East Coast vacation:

  • “Box O’ Joe” Irish coffee pop-up at Buena Vista.
  • $12 reheated slice of Crazy Dough’s.
  • Bottles of water, filled from the bathroom sink of a West Philly Wawa.
  • $2 week-old Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.
  • Scratched Dropkick Murphy’s CDs purchased at various Quincy garage sales.
  • Coolers full of authentic snow collected from Brooklyn (gross old dirty snow, not the fresh stuff).
  • Rosemunde pop-up, featuring sausages imported from Rosemunde Williamsburg.
  • Bagels purchased from C-Town Supermarket that you claim Danny Bowien breathed on.

Go forth and make your money, young jetset entrepreneurs. And congratulations to you, foodies of San Francisco, for effectively releasing any claim of superiority over New York City.

G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶E̶m̶p̶l̶o̶y̶e̶e̶ Actor: "This is a City For the Right People Who Can Afford It"

At this morning's anti-Google Bus protest at 24th and Valencia, the SF Bay Guardian captured this exchange between a protester and Google Employee actor wishing to be this season's Peter Shih. Oy.

UPDATE: In a completely self-defeating move, this “Google employee” was apparently a staged union organizer.

Outraged Masses Synergize with Telephone Poles to Shame Peter Shih

According to a tipster, “these are up all over SOMA right now.”  We're sure NYC is breathlessly awaiting his return.

(For an alternative and delightfully positive reaction to Peter's blogtrum, do read Anisse Gross's “10 ways to open your heart to San Francisco” and BeckyBayside's comment.)

[Third Photo by Ed Park]

Tech Founder Complains About the Shithole City He's Forced to Make His Millions In

San Francisco! It's the worst. The weather, the people, the cyclists, the dreary architecture and glum landscape… just ugh—why would any sane person want to live in this urine-scented homeless wasteland? Without the skrillions of available venture funding dollars and generous tech tax breaks, it's obvious San Franawful would drift off into an ocean of irrelevance.

At least, that's the opinion of Peter Shih, co-founder of an assuredly ground-breaking credit card-processing start-up who was forced to move to San Francisco by his cruel funders at Y-Combinator.  Peter took to Medium—the thought platform that's currently the darling hood ornament of the tech community—to air his thoughts on his adopted hometown.  Cleverly titled “10 Things I Hate About You: San Francisco Edition”—which I won't link to on principle—he breaks down SF's problems in a conveniently digestible listicle.

Let's take a look at his better points:

1. Public Transportation

If you don’t agree with me that the SF MUNI is a pathetic excuse for a public transportation system, then I suggest you visit either of the following cities at your convenience and then proceed to get your head out of your ass: New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, and… actually you know what? Just goto any real city…

San Francisco should be lucky to have Peter.  Peter is bringing the credit card industry to its knees.  Peter is going to change the fucking world.  How dare San Francisco consider itself a real city when its public transportation service isn't exactly what Peter expects.  If Peter lived in a real city, Peter wouldn't need to call an Uber to get where he needs to go.  San Francisco is making Peter use Uber.  How dare San Francisco?

3. Weather

I hate how the weather here is like a woman who is constantly PMSing. I hate how I can’t tell the difference between August and February. I hate how I have to turn on the heater in the middle of summer. I hate having to always carry a jacket because of the 20 degree swings between day and night.

Nature, who the fuck do you think you are?  Peter understands that you're Mother Nature, but you're at least 6,000-years-old according to Rick Perry.  Can't you go through menopause already? Peter needs it to be at least 10 degrees warmer outside so Peter can leave his tech-branded hoodie at home.  Peter is about to unfollow @karlthefog on Twitter.

5. 49ers

No, not the football team, they’re great. I’m referring to all the girls who are obviously 4's and behave like they are 9's. Just because San Francisco has the worst Female to Male ratio in the known universe doesn’t give you the right to be a bitch all the time.

Peter is special.  Peter was accepted into Y-Combinator. Can you imagine some dumb shit woman possibly thinking they are slightly-less-than-perfect around Peter?  Peter is a God.  They should make statues of Peter.  You are a woman in a club.  You are just a 4 compared to Peter.

6. Homeless People

San Francisco has some of the craziest homeless people I have ever seen in my life. Stop giving them money, you know they just buy alcohol and drugs with it right? Next time just hand them a handle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes, it’ll save everyone some trouble. I’m seriously tempted to start fucking with people and pay for homeless guys to ride the Powell street cable cars in the middle of the day, that ought to get the city’s attention.

Peter has been crushing it lately.  Peter's start-up is seeing exponential growth.  Peter is raising money.  Peter is raising hell. Peter is about to hire a growth hacker.  Peter is king.

But San Francisco is bringing Peter down.  San Francisco is allowing mentally ill, drug-addicted homeless people abandoned by society to be in the same 49 square miles as Peter.  Peter does not approve.  Peter just wants to make apps for other Peters, call out some women for being bitches, and put the world's issues out of Peter's mind.  But Peter is a visionary.  Peter is an innovator.  Peter is going to disrupt the city's blindness to Peter's problem with homeless people by paying the homeless to hang out with tourists.  Peter will solve homelessness for Peter.

8. Nightlife (or lack thereof)

Nowadays I don’t even want to go out because getting kicked out of a bar/club at 2AM, which usually is the peak of the night, is just depressing. Pair that shit sandwich with public transit being non-existent past midnight and the Transvestite to Taxi ratio being quite literally off the charts – it is impossible to get home safely, especially if you live far from downtown.

Peter is a warrior.  Peter is not some 9-to-5, color-inside-the-lines corporate drone: Peter is a code-slaying rebel. Peter believes that if you work hard, you should get to play hard too.  Peter wants to shred code all day that disrupts the credit card market, drinking Red Bull and eating Swedish Fish at his desk until 10pm, then go to the club and scold all the 4s who think they're 9s for being bitches.  Can you imagine the gall of California State Law telling him to go home at 2am?

What a bunch of 4s.

10. Bicyclists

Stop being fucking hypocrites. If you want to share the road, then you need to respect the rules of the road and stop running stop signs and lights. Next time I see one of you fuckers bomb through a crosswalk and almost mow down a row of pedestrians I’m going to clothesline you.

Peter drives like he codes: move fast and break things.  Like government regulations and general ethics, bicycles are just getting in the way of Peter's greatness.  Peter will fucking clothesline you.

Peter should go home.

UPDATE: Peter is backtracking.  Peter has deleted the most offensive parts of Peter's article and put up a desperate disclaimer stating it was intended to be satire.  Here is the original post.

Super Gross Dudes Going Shirtless in Public Is Now Fashionable, Apparently

Sorry.

We've all seen it.  How could you not?  Every time the mercury climbs past 68 degrees in San Francisco, Twitter oozes contempt along the lines of “San Francisco, put your shirt back on” and “I just retched into my Blue Bottle after seeing two man nipples,” the Dolores Park bathroom line becomes particularly unsightly, and Valencia glistens with paleness.

The shirtless trend is such that just the other day I saw a bare-bellied not-drug addict walking down Capp Street.  It was 10:30 in the morning on a Tuesday.  I hadn't even had my coffee yet.

I had always assumed the shirtlessness was a result of the trashed economy, but it turns out it's the dernier cri way to beat the heat.

Take the situation in New York City: poisoned by Californian ideals, America's capital of class and couture is now host to barfy semi-naked sights on the subway (weird, right?).  The New York Times reports on the breakdown of society:

There, on Bastille Day, was a shirtless guy checking out the windows at Bergdorf Goodman; there, on Lafayette Street one Tuesday morning, ambled a shirtless shopper hauling Urban Outfitter bags; there, on the R train, was a rider wearing nothing but jeans and sandals; there, on Astor Place, a cluster of topless men flaunting their abs and pecs.

I was on my way to the bank and I saw not one, not two, but three guys” walking shirtless across Eighth Street, said Rob Morea, a personal trainer and an owner of Great Jones Fitness in NoHo. As might be expected of someone in his line of work, Mr. Morea’s own physique resembles that of a bendable action figure. Despite that, he would never go shirtless in New York, he said. “It doesn’t feel right. It’s like going to a business meeting in your underwear.”

It is all a predictable part of the dressing-down of America, said Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

It’s great we live in a democratic society, but we’ve lost all sense of decorum and occasion,” Ms. Mears said. “To be on Fifth Avenue is now about the same as being on the Coney Island boardwalk.”

Normally this would be the part where I laugh at the person bemoaning the loss of “decorum and occasion” and point out the unprecedented opportunity for mocking guys with angel wing tattoos.  But despite my liberalism and YOLO or whatever, I cannot help but agree: San Francisco, put your shirt back on.

[NY Times]

Student Rescues Woman from Stubborn Creep on BART

BART photo by Steve Lambert

We all know the situation — a creepy stranger just won't stop hitting on someone.  The creep's inexhaustible stubbornness shrugs off even the most direct signs of disinterest.

Local student and blogger Chris Brecheen found himself witness to such a situation while on a nearly empty BART train:

He waited until the train was in motion to make his move—a true sign of someone who knows how to make the environment work to their advantage.  Then he leaned forward.  “Hi.”  “How you doing?”  “What are you reading?”  “What's your name?” “I really like your hair.” “That's a really nice skirt.”  “You must work out.”

It was painful to watch.  She clearly wanted nothing to do with him, and he clearly wasn't going to take the hint.

How uncomfortable.  What should one do when one sees a victim in this situation?  Awkwardly pretend not to stare while secretly hoping the creep gets the message?  Or should one step up and play the hero?  Brecheen took the latter path.

Read on for the satisfying conclusion to his epic tale.  It's well worth it.

Have you ever helped someone out of a similarly awkward jam?  Was public transit involved?  Let us know in the comments.

Self-Loathing Twitter Employee Chronicles the Doom and Decadence of San Francisco's Most Tax-Exempt Startup

Meet Twitter Entitled, an unfortunate and pitifully hilarious collection of overheards within the headquarters of Mid-Market's golden goose.  It's blood-boiling, really—like watching Veruca Salt tantrum her way through Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  But who can resist laughing at bad eggs?

Another self-loathing Twitter employee, who claims to know the person responsible for the account, assures us these quotes are genuine rumblings of alleged human beings—a claim we have no way of substantiating, but we don't particularly doubt either. [UPDATE: at some point this afternoon, the maintainer added “#satire” to the description. Read into that however you want.] [UPDATE II: jwz reports that Twitter's “comms team was crying a river over this today,” suggesting this isn't satire.]  So enjoy a few of our favorite gems, and thank your lucky stars that This Is Ron Conway's Town Now:

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