Saturday, 9 November 2013
That's it. You're rich now (and no, this isn't the start of an open letter - I think we've had enough of those for one year) - and your new-found riches are doubtlessly going to cause all sorts of chaos in San Francisco.
I'm not against you making money - in fact, you're a useful service, so you deserve to make money. But like this?! Just floating a site which has no long-term strategy or half-decent monetisation plans?
And it's going to have a bad effect on where you live. Rule number one of living in a city, whether it's San Francisco, New York, London or Norwich, is that you don't shit where you eat. Ever.
But you have. You and the rest of the entitled arseholes that are moving in are buying up and forcing out generations of people in a form of hyper-gentrification which is forcing out many of the people that bring the value and colour that you love so much to your city. The teachers, the shop-workers, the record store employees, the bus-drivers, the plumbers, the electricians the ordinary, day-to-day 'just getting by'-ers - they're all being priced out.
I picked a broad range of people in that last part, but one thing tends to unify them beyond anything else: they do jobs that may not be sexy, exciting or gilded with the riches or the inherent privileges that your job at a start-up may get you, but fucking hell, they're pretty vital. What's going to happen if they're priced out of the the city they work in? Do you think that the further they move out, the more likely they are to bus their arses into work to serve you your special coffee, to make sure you get your hands on the new Yo La Tengo 12-inch, to fix your toilet and teach your special little snowflakes how to read and write? They're not. So work on fixing that housing bubble you've made for yourself there.
I live in London - like most of the UK, it's far from perfect. But one thing that makes me happy about the place is that it's big enough to accommodate everybody. The same battles are being raged over here, that's true - part of the reason that I'm writing this blog is so that in a couple of years time I can recycle it when the guy from Moshi Monsters floats his pester-powerhouse on the stock exchange, makes several billion pounds and buys the whole of North London. But as of yet, looking out of the window, my favourite Turkish shops, takeaways and greengrocers are all still open. Thank God. Long may it continue.
So Twitterees - now you're rich. Well done. But what good is being rich when in the back of your mind, there's this niggling feeling that all of those promoted Tweets you're offering won't make up for the fact that you're forcing normal people out of the city they've lived in their whole lives, whilst you enjoy a tax-break which is costing the city you live in approximately $55 million?
You've made your money. Now look at yourselves. What are you going to do with it to make the world a bit better, apart from donating to non-profits purely to alleviate your tax burden? Because you didn't enable an Arab Spring, you didn't destroy the super-injunction, and you weren't solely responsible for the enduring popularity of Stephen Fry. The people that use your site did that. The meatbags that log in every morning to swell your servers with selfies, bon mots and news updates.
You don't like having the government involved - people in tech rarely do, so why not just use some of that vast pile of post-IPO money to ensure that you live in a fairer city, somewhere everybody can live. And focus on how you can make some more. And then invest. And then make more. And then invest. Become a successful business. Because at the moment, all you've done is made more money to piss up the wall.