February 18, 2016 12:57 pm
Updated: February 18, 2016 3:09 pm

‘I shouldn’t have to see homeless people on my way to work’: Another ‘tech bro’ sparks outrage

Homeless people camp in front of an out of business Trader Vic's restaurant on January 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A San Francisco-area tech entrepreneur is facing intense public scrutiny after publishing an open letter stating wealthy people on their way to work, shouldn’t have to witness the “pain, struggle, and despair” of homeless people.

Justin Keller – founder of server management startup Commando.io – published the letter addressed to the San Francisco mayor Monday, claiming his Presidents Day weekend was ruined by homeless people.

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“I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it,” he wrote.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

The letter – which referred to homeless people as “riff raff” – detailed three alleged incidents in which Keller said homeless people made his family feel uncomfortable or fear for their safety.

The entrepreneur later apologized for using the term “riff raff” stating it was “insensitive and counterproductive.”

WATCH: Global tech reporter Nicole Bogart discusses the biggest tech stories of the day – including the Silicon Valley man who’s open letter railing against the homeless is drawing worldwide ire

But his apology did little to stop him from being compared to Martin Shkreli – the vilified pharmaceutical executive who raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 per cent.

READ MORE: Price-hiking pharma exec sued by artist over Wu-Tang Clan album

Shkreli is more popularly known as “pharma bro.”

Keller has now earned himself the title of “tech bro” from publications like The Guardian which wrote, “his letter is distinctive for its total lack of sympathy for the plight of those in difficult circumstances, focusing instead on the discomfort of the ‘wealthy.’”

His comments have drawn outrage both from San Francisco residents and international audiences on Twitter.

San Francisco’s homeless situation has been a point of contention for years, but recently became international news thanks to Super Bowl 50. Residents reacted with outrage after officials announced the city would pay nearly US$5 million in costs for the festivities leading up to the event, sparking further uncertainty for the homeless community, according to The Guardian.

According to Fusion, San Francisco has over 6,000 homeless people. However, the city has more homeless per square mile than Los Angeles, Seattle and Las Vegas.

“San Francisco is second only to New York City for the densest homeless population by land mass. But in NYC, the homeless are ‘sheltered’ at much higher numbers, meaning fewer people actually sleeping on the street,” read the Fusion report.

Keller isn’t the first to join the so-called tech-bro club.

In 2013, tech entrepreneur Peter Shih said San Francisco has “some of the craziest homeless people” he had ever seen in his life.

That same year Greg Gopman was lambasted for a Facebook post that read, “Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts and trash I have no idea.” In 2015, he published a blog calling the post “the stupidest mistake of his life.”

Meanwhile, Keller has been taking to Twitter to defend himself now that his letter has gone viral. In response to one user he tweeted, “I’m not a [random] rich dude. I ride the bus to work. I went to a state [college]. I live in a studio [apartment.”

According to his Twitter feed, Keller said he wrote the letter to ask the government to address the city’s homelessness problem, while maintaining he is concerned for citizens’ safety.


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