Inside the Tech Billionaires’ Campaign to Redefine San Francisco Politics

San Francisco, a city known for its progressive values, is currently witnessing a seismic shift in its political landscape. A group of tech billionaires and venture capitalists are pouring substantial resources into the city’s political sphere, aiming to steer it towards policies that align with their vision. Here’s a breakdown of the key players, their main goals, and the potential impact on San Francisco:

Inside the Tech Billionaires' Campaign to Redefine San Francisco Politics

Key Players

  • William Oberndorf: A hedge fund manager and major Republican party donor, advocating for charter schools.
  • Michael Moritz: A billionaire investor with a vested interest in reshaping the city.
  • Chris Larsen: A cryptocurrency booster backing increased police ranks and surveillance.
  • David Sacks: PayPal co-founder, involved in various political contributions.
  • Garry Tan: CEO of Y Combinator, leading the charge against progressive policies.
  • Zachary Rosen: CEO of Pantheon, invested in policy reshaping efforts.

These individuals have joined forces with traditional business and real estate elites, creating a “grey money” network of interlocking non-profits, dark money groups, and political action committees.

Main Goals

The tech elite’s policy wish list includes:

  1. Tougher Approach to Homelessness and Drug Problems: Advocating for policies that address these issues with increased urgency and resources.
  2. More Punitive Approach to Crime: Pushing for policies that would increase policing and surveillance in the city.
  3. Business and Housing Construction: Seeking a climate more favorable to business interests and the construction of new housing developments.
  4. Centralizing Power: Some call for more power to be centralized in the office of the mayor to facilitate these changes.

Impact on San Francisco

  • Political Influence: The network has already demonstrated its power, with no progressive candidates challenging London Breed for mayor.
  • Elections: Their involvement has led to the election of pro-cop supervisors and the recall of progressive figures like Chesa Boudin.
  • Policy Changes: If successful, their efforts could lead to significant policy shifts in a city known for its liberal stance.

Financial Contributions:

  • Total Contributions: Over $26 million since 2020, with more than $21 million spent on political issues.
  • Individual Investments: At least $5.7 million invested by the key players mentioned above.

Recent Developments:

  • California Forever: A controversial plan backed by tech billionaires to build a new city in northern California, which may go to a voter referendum.


The influx of tech money into San Francisco politics is a game-changer, with the potential to significantly alter the city’s future. While the full extent of the impact remains to be seen, the current trajectory suggests a shift towards more conservative, business-friendly policies. This “hostile takeover” of San Francisco’s political system is a testament to the power of wealth in shaping public policy and the future of cities.



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