Monday, April 14, 2014

SF Angel Investor with Close Ties to the Mayor Comes Out Against Real Estate Owners

Ron Conway is an American angel investor, often described as one of the "super angels", according to Wikipedia. As founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds, he was an early stage investor in Google, Ask Jeeves and PayPal.

He also is very
politically active.

Conway was the single largest campaign contributor to Edwin M. Lee in his successful campaign for Mayor of San Francisco in November 2011; Conway raised $600,000 for Lee through independent expenditure committees. Since then questions have been raised about whether Lee has taken actions to benefit companies in which Conway has investments. (SEE NYT: As Mayor Cultivates New Business, Treatment of Backer Is Questioned)

In January 2012, Conway helped establish a new tech organization initiative with SF Mayor Lee and the City of San Francisco called to promote tech jobs . Conway has done some good as an advocate of lower taxes for high tech companies in the city.

But Conway is now using to rally support for anti-landlord initiatives. In the People's Republic of San Francisco, landlords often have very little rights when it comes to their own properties. A California act, known as the Ellis Act, actually allows landlords, under certain conditions, to evict renters that are paying  below market rates.

The recent protests against Silicon Valley buses that transport SF tech workers to SV has largely been in protest of these evictions, as the protesters see SV residents as driving up rent prices and also being among those buying up properties and using the Ellis Act to evict low paying renters.

Conway, as chairman of, last week put out an email statement calling for the rights of landlords to be further abused by urging adoption of SB 1439, which would limit landlords from using the Ellis Act. In other words he is calling for further limitations on how landlords can use their own property.

And that's how things roll in Fog city. Here's the email that went out:


Part of the tech backlash occurring in SF right now is due to evictions by real estate speculators. Please help stop evictions in SF by having your Company sign on to the below letter for Senator Leno. To add your Company to the list of signatories, simply forward this email to 


The following members of are writing to register support for SB 1439. 

The bill would prohibit rental property owners in San Francisco of less than five years from invoking the Ellis Act, threatening to invoke the Ellis Act, or prosecuting an unlawful detainer (eviction) action based on the Ellis Act. 

Real estate speculators are misusing California's Ellis Act to evict long-term rent paying tenants, who have done nothing wrong but are casualties of a loophole in the Act that must be closed to prevent further displacement. 

The Ellis Act was adopted to allow landlords to exit the rental business, not to give windfall profits to speculators willing to exploit the Act by entering the rental business just to exit it. These speculators are exploiting a loophole in the Act that allows them to buy a building and then immediately "exit the rental business" through mass evictions of low and middle-income tenants. The stories are heartbreaking, with families, seniors, and disabled San Franciscans losing their long-term homes. 

Almost two-thirds of San Franciscans are renters, one of the highest percentages of any city in the country. San Francisco needs additional tools to protect its renters and prevent misuse of the Ellis Act. The Act already empowers San Francisco to adopt specified rules to mitigate the impact of eviction and prevent re-rental in violation of the Act. SB 1439 will expand these powers to allow the city to block the misuse of the Act by speculators. 

We strongly support the passage of SB 1439. 

Ron Conway 


City and County of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee (sponsor)
Tenants Together (sponsor)
Alliance for a Better District 6
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Asian Southeast Asian Society Policy Institute 
Automatic Labs 
Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
Bill Sorro Housing Program
California Alliance of Retired Americans
California Music and Culture Association
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Causa Justa::Just Cause
Central City Democrats
Chinatown Community Development Center
Chinese Chamber of Commerce
Community Housing Partnership
Community Tenants Association
Crate Labs, Inc. 
Data Elite 
Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco 
Eviction Defense Collaborative 
HandUp PBC 
Home Ownership San Francisco 
Keen IO 
Kite Solutions, Inc. 
Lower 24th Street, Merchants & Neighbors Association 
Mesosphere, Inc. 
Mission Economic Development Agency 
Nashville West Studios 
National Housing Law Project 
Newsle, Inc. 
Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California 
North of Market Business Association 
PLAE, Inc. 
Project Homeless Connect 
San Francisco Business and Construction Trades Council 
San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation ( 
San Francisco Community Land Trust 
San Francisco Housing Development Corporation 
San Francisco Latino Democratic Club 
Social Bet, Inc. 
Square Trade 
Tenant Association Coalitions of San Francisco 
Tenderloin Housing Clinic 
Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative 
West Bay Housing Corporation 
Western Center on Law and Pvoerty 
Xoom Corp. 
Zackees, Inc. 
Private Individuals

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to say I care, but I don't. If you are stupid enough to own rental property in SF, then don't complain when they trample your property rights. I have the same regard for those stupid enough to have bought the recent Greek bonds issues at under 5% or dumb enough to invest capital in a socialist country like Venezuela or buying Detroit DIP bonds while fellow bond holders given the same level of security are getting 10cents on the dollar. There are some real idiots in charge of large amounts of other people's money. But as far as SF goes, anyone that lives and/or operates a business there has full knowledge of how nutty/Marxist the local government is since its been that way for a very long time. All I can assume is that SF must be a really great place to live that highly people and very successful businesses are willing to tolerate the constant intrusion into their property rights by the control freaks and nut jobs that run the government. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong, and the Marxist nut jobs actually have created a utopian society.