Business Technology

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Rich tech companies need to 'give more' to fight homelessness - Salesforce boss condemns Stripe over controversial law

Proposal: Controversial tax law would target large companies to help pay for the homeless in San Francisco
Proposal: Controversial tax law would target large companies to help pay for the homeless in San Francisco
Under fire: Patrick Collison, left, pictured with brother John
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The Limerick-born Stripe founder Patrick Collison has become involved in a row over homelessness in San Francisco, where his company has been accused of "not [being] willing to give back at scale" by Salesforce founder and chief executive Marc Benioff.

The dispute is over a controversial law that would tax large companies in San Francisco more to help pay for San Francisco's homelessness epidemic.

Mr Benioff says he now supports the law, arguing that rich tech companies need to "give more" to fight homelessness.

However, other tech CEOs, including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison, have come out against the law. The founders cite San Francisco's Mayor, who also opposes it.

Stripe's chief lawyer, Jon Zieger, said that it "would permanently raise taxes and double spending for homeless services without a concrete plan, at a time when the city already lacks accountability for the more than $300m it's spending on homelessness every year. Prop C taxes gross receipts, not profits."

But some supporters claim that tech companies are simply agitating against a law that would cost them more money.

"He just doesn't want to give, that's all," said Mr Benioff of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in an interview with the 'Guardian'. "And he hasn't given anything of consequence in the city."

And Mr Benioff said of Stripe: "[Prop C] will be a direct tax on Stripe that they don't want to have to pay.

"Even though they've made $20bn in San Francisco, they're not willing to give back at scale."

Stripe made no comment on Mr Benioff's claims.

Stripe was recently valued at $20bn, although it is not known whether the company has yet turned a profit or what the net worth of the two Collison co-founders is.

San Francisco's first black female mayor, London Breed, opposed the new proposed law, fearing that it might weaken the city's revenue base by making rival cities more attractive to high-performing tech giants.

But proponents of the new law say that the tech companies are partially responsible for sky high rents and apartment prices around San Francisco, a key contributor to homelessness.

Stripe employs 1,000 people in San Francisco, while Twitter's global headquarters is on one of San Francisco's worst-hit streets for homelessness.

Irish Independent

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