Map of Ron Conway’s influence and connections
Over the last decade Ron Conway and his associates have been constructing an apparatus to control San Francisco. Through a web of investments, pseudo-philanthropic foundations, donations, political contributions, influence on policy and tinkering with City agencies using new technologies, he and his cohorts are realizing his agenda to to change the political landscape of San Francisco. While his efforts have resulted in enormous local change, he is also involved in organizations and technology to change national policy. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project created this connections map to visualize the web of influence.
Conway is one of Mayor Ed Lee's closest advisors, and has poured millions into local elections, including in $275,000 in 2012 to help pass Prop. E, which lowered the business tax rates for tech companies that he invested in such as Airbnb, Twitter, Digg, and Zynga, amongst others. He is one of Silicon Valley's preeminent angel investors, and since the Dot Com Boom he has bankrolled large corporations such as Google, PayPal, and Facebook into investments with countless SF-based tech companies.
In 2012, Conway's net-worth was reported at $1.5 billion. In 2011, Business Insider obtained a leaked list of his investments, which included 228 companies such as Square, Sticher, Yammer, Pintinterest, AddThis, AirTime, BuzzFeed, Twitter, Friend.ly, and Magnetic.
In 2012 Conway founded (and is now chairman of the board of directors for) the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, or sf.citi, a 501(c)6 non-profit organization that advocates for the technology community in San Francisco and includes at least 500 member companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Salesforce. In March 2014, sf.citi began advocating for impunity for tech companies illegally using public city buses. Sf.citi is also involved in a number of public initiatives, and private/public partnerships involving tech companies.
Sf.citi is a continuation (and amplification) of the neoliberal model initiated under Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2006 with the formation of the various "connects" - privately funded branches of city agencies which absorb previously city-run services under non-transparent private entities.
In 2014, Conway launched One City through sf.citi, with support from Ed Lee, further enlisting tech companies to solve city crises - companies that a growing number of San Franciscans see conversely as fueling the eviction and inequality epidemics. When a former Facebook millionaire turned investor critiqued Ed Lee for not doing more to mitigate the housing crisis, Conway jumped into a heated debate, defending the Mayor, who he had helped elect.