Twitter’s implied threats to leave San Francisco for Brisbane appear to be paying off, as city official are reportedly unveiling a plan to offer to microblogging service tax credits to remain in SF today. But not everyone is thrilled about the plan, with some questioning Twitter’s tactics, while others worry for the safety of the company’s hapless engineers in what’s historically a crime-riddled area.
Weeks ago, the SF Business Times’ JK Dineen called Twitter out on the rumors they were contemplating a move out of the city, asking “Is Twitter playing Brisbane for a twit?” and ending his piece by saying “If the real goal is to get the best possible deal in San Francisco, Twitter seems to be playing its cards to perfection.”
Dineen appeared to be right, as, according to the Chronicle, Mayor Lee and Supes Jane Kim and David Chiu were burning the midnight oil last night, as they hammered out a proposal to provide payroll tax exemptions for the company, should they move to what Appeal contrib Susie Cagle called “the gap toothed face of Mid Market.”
While details of the legislation were still being worked out, Beyond Chron editor and area activist Randy Shaw was already applauding the move, describing it as “the most important economic revitalization measure ever proposed for Mid-Market and the Uptown Tenderloin.”
According to Shaw, this plan to cut Twitter (and other businesses who move to the area) a break isn’t even going to cost us anything — as the tax break is only for new hires, “all taxes on current payrolls stay in effect and there is no loss to the city’s General Fund.”
The Guardian’s less thrilled over any plan to cut Twitter and those who follow them a deal. Calling Twitter’s negotiating strategies “corporate blackmail,” they quote Supervisor John Avalos, who opposed the tax break at the time of their editorial, as saying “It’s like this every time…It’s a race to the bottom.”
Silicon Valley Watcher is similarly sour on Twitter’s tactics. In a piece entitled “Twitter Touts ‘Social Responsibility’ But Threatens To Leave SF Over Local Taxes,” SVW’s Tom Foremski asks “How does Twitter square away its PR about it being a socially responsible company yet threaten to leave San Francisco unless it gets a tax break? Those taxes are part of its social responsibility to the local community.“
“Clearly at Twitter,” Foremski says “chatter about social responsibility is more important than actual social responsibility.”
On his Tumblr, Ted Rheingold, Appeal pal and founder of Dogster, a company located in Potrero Hill, comments on the matter, saying that “(o)nce company leadership moves from this is the right way to grow the company, to this is the financially right way to grow the company, much is sacrificed…”
Such as employees’ well-being? That’s what Appeal pal Matt Baume worries about in his piece on NBC11’s site. Describing Mid-Market as a “windswept no-mans-land with little on the street but pawn shops and people desperately in need of social services” Baume says “(m)aybe after (Twitter) employees are mugged, they can use Twitter to file a police report.”
The proposed legislation is seen by some as a proving ground for Mayor Lee. In a cringe-worthy article on Twitter’s possible departure, the Chronicle’s editorial board said “Mayor Lee, yr 1st test. Get it rt.”
Will the Board of Supes, which must approve the proposal, agree that this is
“rt” (oh, god, I just can’t) right? Find out at today’s meeting, at which the legislation is expected to make its debut. The fun begins at 2 PM Tuesday, and if you can’t make it to City Hall, you can watch it on online or on cable channel 26.