TechCrunch Disrupt Host Did Unsanctioned Homeless Sweeps of Tents, Robbed People’s Possessions

Updated: Sep 16, 2020 16:03
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Image: Mary Mac Bortolussi via Facebook

It’s bad enough that the SF Police and Department of Public Works are seizing unsheltered people’s property when conducting their heartless homeless encampment sweeps. But now private tech companies are just conducting the sweeps themselves — without city permission, and during a pandemic, for eff’ s sake — as the San Francisco Public Press reports that the TechCrunch Disrupt conference host conducted unsanctioned sweeps of unsheltered peoples’ tents and belongings before their conference got underway this week.

The aftermath ???????

Posted by Mary Mac Bortolussi on Thursday, September 10, 2020

There are two videos allegedly of the incident still posted to Facebook, both of which check with what the SF Public Press reported. The venue is called SVN West, the former Honda dealership at South Van Ness and Market Street where many livestream TechCrunch Disrupt events are being recorded.

“This is not DPW,” the narrator in the above video says, describing the private crew conducting the sweep. “DPW puts your stuff away in bags so you can come get your stuff later. These people are not DPW. They are stealing these homeless people’s stuff.”

“They’re entering the tents without permission, they’re entering with brute force,” she adds, as a number tents are forcibly removed and tossed into the back of a truck that sped away. “They brought their own security just in case. They’re not bagging and tagging any of this property. They’re throwing it away.”

“It wasn’t even the city. It was, like, some random dudes,” she says, before the group laughs and shares a round of high-fives after stealing the belongings of unsheltered people. 

Kicking out the homeless at dark 30 in the morning. No warnings? WHO ARE THESE GUYS?????

Posted by Mary Mac Bortolussi on Thursday, September 10, 2020

Sure enough, they’re not DPW. The SF Public Press got ahold of Tech Crunch Disrupt’s event host, a company called Non Plus Ultra that also owns the SVN West venue, and they confirmed that they did indeed perform unsanctioned encampment sweeps. “The tents were only removed after reaching out to DPW over 50 times, SFPD non-emergency a number of times,” a representative told the publication. But SF Public Press reporting contradicts that claim, as they double-checked and only found “a handful of complaints about the encampment,” and that “The city did respond to some of those.” The fellow who seen high-fiving is identified as Peter Glikshtern, a ‘partner’ at Non Plus Ultra, and co-owner of The Midway (which has also been in hot water over previous attempts to flout COVID restrictions.)

Moreover, the unsheltered people say were treated in phenomenally cruel fashion. “They all had masks on, and a whole bully effect,” one victim told SF Public Press. “They walked up to tents, opened them, and started taking people’s stuff.”

Another person whose tent was confiscated says he lost “two violins that belonged to his daughter, a trumpet, a moped, high-end auto parts and $11,000 in jobless benefit money that he’d kept out of the bank due to distrust of financial institutions.”

After publication, TechCrunch Disrupt denied involvement with the tent sweep. “TechCrunch did not take part in or request” the sweep, TechCrunch editor in chief Matthew Panzarino told SF Public Press. “We were not consulted on or informed of this action, which we would never condone.”

The above tweet gives you some sense of what TechCrunch Disrupt is, a sort VC and startup circle jerk that has surely the most assholish name of any annual San Francisco tech conference. The event is technically not being held in person this year, but livestream segments are hosted from the South Van Ness Ave. location of the event host Non Plus Ultra, who took matters into their own hands to conduct the unsanctioned sweeps.  The event continues through Friday (and ironically, has the nerve to schedule a session called “How Data Can Power the Racial Justice Movement” just after polishing off an encampment sweep.)

We’re sure there will be a lot of ‘Move fast and break things’ kind of talk at TechCrunch Disrupt. Maybe the conference’s tech types might even come right out and admit that they now ‘Move fast and steal homeless people’s things.’

NOTE: This post has been updated with comment from TechCrunch, and to reflect that Non Plus Ultra is described by TechCrunch as the “host” of TechCrunch Disrupt event, not the “producer.” As if that makes any difference on a moral or legal level! But TechCrunch has requested corrections, and this post has been updated as such. 

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.

1 Comment

  1. Tyler Hanson
    September 17, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Quick edit – NPU does not own SVN West venue, they are renting it from the city!