The Battle for the Soul of San Francisco
Healing the Tension Between Wealthy Tech Workers and Their Impoverished Neighbors
by Chris Colin | photographs by Darcy Padilla 2.7.17
One day last summer Chirag Bhakta and a friend were walking through the Tenderloin, the San Francisco neighborhood Bhakta has called home all his life. Wedged improbably between the city’s gleaming high-rises, tony Union Square shopping zone, and affluent Nob Hill district, the Tenderloin is a sprawl of code-red despair. People shoot up openly, stagger about in various stages of undress and untreated illness; nowhere else in town is such an intricate, root-bound extremeness of poverty on display. This level of misery is one of the most striking things a person can see in San Francisco, topped only by a relatively newer sight—that of well-to-do 23-year-olds gliding blithely through this scene while playing Twilight: The Movie Game on their phones.
The socioeconomic Maginot Line that long kept the TL apart from the rest of the city has in recent years been breached, as tech companies have pressed closer with their lavish mid-Market offices and well-paid young employees. As a result, these 40 or so blocks have become an epicenter for one of the country’s most pitched gentrification battles—pitched, arguably, because fighting about “gentrification” is just an easy way of fighting about larger and messier things: the growing chasm between rich and poor, sure, but also technology’s place in the world and, on days like this one, which side can act more cartoonishly moronic. Bhakta and his buddy had turned onto Larkin Street when they spotted four white guys in button-down shirts.
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“I was like, fuck it, I’m going to do away with my filter,” Bhakta, 29, recalls. A tenant-rights-nonprofit worker by day, he watched the influx of tech companies lead to higher rents, more evictions, and a general sense of displacement in an already marginal community. When he was growing up, his parents, immigrants from India, had washed dishes and worked a cash register just blocks away. Bhakta could no longer hold back.
“Fucking tech bros ruining the neighborhood,” he spat.
The guys let loose too.
“If you can’t afford it, get out!” one shouted.
As Tenderloin conflicts go, this one was relatively demure. The insults escalated—but ultimately both sides walked on. Maybe they weren’t the punching sort. Maybe they had somewhere to be. Or maybe, at some subconscious level, everyone knew things were more complex than they were letting on.
Indeed, Bhakta sometimes fantasizes about conducting a more substantive conversation. But he also feels that bridging San Francisco’s two most polarized and symbolic monoliths—its growing tech community and its impoverished Tenderloin—isn’t his responsibility.
“If they can read code, they can understand why gentrification is a problem in the TL,” he says. “It’s not my job to hold their hand while they get to know their own neighborhood.”
On this, Bhakta is correct. That job belongs to an 87-year-old man three blocks over.
Reverend Cecil Williams is large and peaceful-looking, with a bushy beard and the vaguely cosmic power to lure a dozen Zendesk employees from a perfectly nice office building. It is a bright and cold day in San Francisco, and from their glassy Market Street headquarters the crew walks toward Williams and his Glide Memorial Church, a beautiful but weathered building three grimy blocks and several galaxies away.
Maybe the Zendeskers mapped their walk before they came, or maybe they just looked for the line of hungry people. The line snakes down Ellis Street, past a boarded-up lot and a single-room apartment building for the poor, then winds up Leavenworth. For nearly a half century, Williams’ church has served three squares a day to the city’s most down-and-out—roughly 800,000 meals a year of late—making it one of the most ambitious soup-kitchen programs in the nation. The Zendesk team proceeds past the food line, into an elevator to a spartan conference room four floors up.
The group—cheerful, mostly young—stands out among some of the tougher clients Williams, his wife and the founding president of Glide, Janice Mirikitani, and their staff welcome as one of the city’s largest providers of social services. With an operating budget of around $17 million, the church supports the city’s poorest and most disenfranchised. On top of free meals, it offers legal counseling, child care, after-school services, recovery groups, a meditation group, an acupuncture clinic, a pregnancy support group, a grief support group, a healing-through-Negro-spirituals workshop. Glide also runs three supportive housing developments nearby, where residents receive social services in addition to a roof overhead.
The Zendesk employees gathering in the conference room have come at an odd moment in San Francisco history. As emissaries of the tech world, they represent the forces that have exacerbated the city’s ever-widening economic disparity—the very issue that most consumes Glide and, frankly, the whole town. From the latest gentrification skirmish to the endless Google-bus wars, the Bay Area often seems defined by tension around the tech community—tension that, in turn, echoes the growing gulf between the haves and have-nots throughout the country. Armed with cotton balls and syringes, the Zendesk team has come to effect a small, back-channel undo.
A software company dedicated to providing customer support systems for more than 80,000 corporate clients, Zendesk hasn’t typically focused on helping its neighbors shoot smack. But assembling needle-exchange kits isn’t rocket science, and in this case it’s actually a Trojan horse operation: “We bring them in with the needle exchange, and from there they learn about our other services,” explains Jorge Vieto, Glide’s health services navigator. Incidentally, the program also works on its own merits: San Francisco has about 22,000 IV drug users, and before endeavors like Glide’s, hundreds of those users contracted HIV each year through dirty needles. In 2015 all of two new drug-related HIV cases were documented.
Among San Franciscans, Glide is a little like Burning Man, the annual art fest in the Nevada desert: You go or you resign yourself to hearing about it year after year. A typical entry point to the church is the famed Sunday service, a raucous event that’s one part Occupy rally, two parts Prince concert, and zero parts brimstone. Williams arrived in 1963, straight from the March on Washington, and one of his first moves was to take down the crosses. His view on running a church was: Open the place to everyone. If the idea sounds nice, that’s 2016 talking. He welcomed Black Panthers and hippies and drug dealers and prostitutes when that constituted full-on heresy. Ditto the same-sex covenants he performed in the ’70s, decades before the world caught up. He called for the city’s schools to be picketed in 1965 for what amounted to segregation, he threw “Free Angela Davis” rallies and waded into the debate after Native Americans took over Alcatraz in 1969. The finger waggers went insane every time. “Most of the city’s widely recognized historical events over the past four decades involved Glide,” reporter Jenny Strasburg once wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle.
All that history has left Williams less young than he once was; these days the charismatic pastor takes a lift to the stage on Sundays and increasingly shares it with other speakers. But his magnetism is undiminished, and he’s at his fieriest on the subject of radical inclusion. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, there’s always a place for you in this corner of the Tenderloin.
Glide had both the cred and the networks to facilitate an introduction between the neighborhood’s oldest and newest residents.
In a way, that inclusive ethos is being tested more now than it was when Glide welcomed the hippies and Panthers and drug dealers. The arrival of Twitter, Salesforce, Spotify, Zendesk, and other companies in the Tenderloin and adjacent mid-Market corridor has ironically amounted to one of tech’s biggest disruptions, depositing more than 10,000 comparatively wealthy, generally white employees into the city’s poorest, most diverse neighborhood. Of course, the sudden appearance of pour-over coffee and artisanal cocktails in once-funky neighborhoods is nothing new in the city. But over at Glide, Williams and others started to notice something else. At an institutional level and an individual level, tech was showing up at their door with a specific if unspoken agenda: They wanted an intro.
“Many of them have chosen to live here and just don’t know how to make a connection,” James Lin, Glide’s senior director of mission and social justice, tells me—they have a neighborhood, in other words, but scarcely know their neighbors. Enter Glide. The church had both the cred and the networks to facilitate an introduction between its oldest and newest residents. As cofounder and minister of liberation, Williams has stood astride poverty and fame for half a century; he marched in Selma, he’s counted the Mandelas and Obamas and Oprahs and Bonos of the world as friends. A newly arrived company looking for an ally on these blocks, or perhaps a broker, could do far worse.
To Felicia Horowitz, wife of tech luminary Ben Horowitz and a devoted Glide supporter, the tech industry has to work extra hard for community acceptance—even as far more insidious local industries mostly escape public reprobation. Chirag Bhakta didn’t mutter about predatory lending bros ruining the neighborhood. At the center, Horowitz sees an abiding tech truth. “We’re outsiders. That’s what it comes down to. We always have been,” Horowitz told me.
To critics, tech’s budding interest in the TL is little more than reputation laundering. This is an industry that has ushered in exploding rents, driven beloved old establishments out of business, and frayed the very fabric Glide works tirelessly to save. The community-minded overtures it does make are mandatory in some cases. The so-called Twitter tax break exempted participating companies from millions in payroll taxes in exchange for moving into this neglected part of town and some vaguely worded community engagement promises.
These are concerns about which Williams does not give a damn. While the city spins out in endless arguments about the techies, Glide leadership has moved on to a more strategic question: What would Jesus do about a bunch of engineers moving into the neighborhood? The answer so far: Love them. Help them engage with this perhaps intimidating rung of society. Sure, get them to cough up money. But mostly love them and, on this morning with the Zendesk crew, have them make needle kits.
“There’s more that unites us than divides us,” one of the Glide workers says in his preamble to the group, and for a moment the gulf between user and coder feels navigable. The volunteers gather around a set of folding tables stacked with bins full of needle equipment. Zendesk is considered one of the city’s more generous companies (it has a robust giving plan, volunteering is expected of employees, and in 2015 it launched a nonprofit for community initiatives), but a tedious gig putting things in bags? I expect a little half-assedness—some bored texting, some lackadaisical me-and-my-needle-kit selfies. I see the opposite. Two workers discuss the possibility of assembling more kits back at the office. Others speak with pride about having doubled Zendesk’s regular visits to Glide. One senior IT guy named Doug enjoys volunteering here so much that he comes on weekends. An engineer named Jim enthused that making the kits is disruptive. “The difference you make is measurable.”
One day, a few dozen Twitter employees walk over to Glide to help prepare food during a periodic Friday for Good company outing. In the church’s aging industrial kitchen, CEO Jack Dorsey slips on a hairnet and begins to dole out lunch.
Dorsey is slender and unassuming, decked out in red high-tops and jeans. “Earlier I was cutting potatoes,” he tells me. The image is oddly destabilizing: On the one hand it’s uncomplicatedly good that a person who could pop over to Paris for lunch has come to a dingy church basement to serve the poor. On the other hand is this naive but nagging thought: Couldn’t he, you know, feed these people forever? That question has been a growing part of San Francisco’s, and the nation’s, complicated relationship with its newest industry. Is it unfair to expect a company to solve generational poverty simply because it has set up shop nearby? Or—and this question might require a channeling of Glide’s most fundamental teachings—has the country reached a point where it’s outrageous to do anything but try?
In the early 20th century the Tenderloin was the Paris of the West, a lively center of vice brimming with nightlife and culture.
As it happens, questions like these are currently being fielded in the Sanctuary. On Sundays, 200 congregants gather in the spacious, booming space for the rollicking Celebration. But today the room is being used for a kind of bespoke private sermon, as Nicole Brown, Glide’s director of institutional giving, loads up a batch of Twitter volunteers with Glide-think.
“Glide is not church, please know that,” she begins. Rather, it’s a place to reflect on the “tapestry of our shared humanity,” a tapestry in which Twitter is a “cornerstone partner.” What follows is a mix of absolution, local history, and private homily.
“Our housing crisis did not start when Twitter moved onto Market Street,” Brown assures them. “This is 30 years of failed public policy. We wanted to remain a precious, beautiful two-story city, and we did not build housing.”
What happened and didn’t happen on these streets is indeed more complicated than is commonly understood. In the early 20th century the Tenderloin was the Paris of the West, a lively center of vice brimming with nightlife and culture. What followed is both unique to these blocks and broadly familiar to anyone who has studied how healthy inner cities plunge into cascading poverty—a blend of dumb policy, dumb luck, structural racism, and the occasionally vengeful Greek dairy owner turned mayor.
The Tenderloin’s roots go back to the 19th century, when prospectors settled here after the Gold Rush. The neighborhood grew—and then became rubble in the 1906 earthquake. A massive construction boom followed, the buildings designed to absorb as many workers as possible: tiny single-room units, shared bathrooms, often no kitchen. Because of the way they were plumbed and owing to policy decisions decades later (that would make it difficult to convert the buildings to, say, luxury hotels or high-rises), these became a permanent fixture in the neighborhood, making gentrification nearly impossible. As the journalist Gary Kamiya has chronicled, many of the TL’s old buildings were declared historic and thus preserved. When local social-service nonprofits began buying these buildings and becoming landlords to their clients, kicking out the working-class residents only became more unlikely.
In 1956 the city elected George Christopher, a Greek immigrant (and the eventual dairy owner), to be its 34th mayor. Christopher, a Republican, is generally heralded for luring the Giants from New York, building schools and firehouses and pools, and offering his home to Willie Mays after a local real estate agent had refused to sell to him. But as Randy Shaw, the founder of the Tenderloin Museum, writes in his 2015 book, The Tenderloin, Christopher’s deep “dislike of the Tenderloin became personal when his 27-year-old brother was arrested on narcotics charges.” Despite the mayor’s efforts to keep the young addict away from these blocks—sending him as far away as the Sierras—he was no match for their draw; when Christopher’s brother died an early death, Shaw writes, the mayor blamed the neighborhood. The city cracked down on gambling, streetcars were ripped out, disruptive one-way streets were established, and all of it crushed the local economy.
The transformation of the area dovetailed with a massive urban renewal scheme—many called it urban removal.
In a sense, that was just the start. Christopher’s transformation of the area dovetailed with a massive urban renewal scheme—many called it urban removal—in a nearby and relatively prosperous African American neighborhood. Though the Western Addition had an international reputation as a vibrant center for jazz and culture, redevelopment forces waged a successful campaign to label it blighted, and eminent domain sent thousands of residents packing. (Of course, those homes had previously belonged to Japanese residents sent to internment camps. How far back shall we go?) The displaced residents headed east to the TL, where housing was cheap.
When Lyndon Johnson launched his landmark War on Poverty in the mid-1960s, San Francisco’s cut of the federal money focused on communities that were historically disadvantaged because of race or poverty. But in the TL another marginal population had begun to gain prominence. Waves of young gay people fleeing intolerance and abuse back east were turning up there, and in 1966 an early band of queer-friendly activists managed to get the Tenderloin designated a War on Poverty target district. It was right around that time that a young Cecil Williams was ramping up the outreach programs in his new Glide Memorial Church.
Not much of this can fit into a brief talk to a group of Twitter volunteers. For that matter it doesn’t really fit into any clear narrative about the Tenderloin whatsoever. Is the neighborhood a symbol of America’s neglect of its poor? So bleak are things now, she explains to the group, that some of Glide’s homeless and indigent clients commute from Antioch, 45 miles away. (Recently, a chart made the rounds on the internet showing how quickly the country’s wealth disparity is worsening. The median net worth among middle-class Americans fell 19.1 percent from 1998 to 2013, and 52.7 percent among the working class. Only the richest 10 percent managed to get richer, their median net worth shooting up 74.9 percent.) Or is the Tenderloin meant to be understood as something else—a rugged but proud working-class holdout in a country that otherwise replaces such people with artisanal-pickle shops?
And if so, where do the artisanal pickle eaters fit in?
For her part, Nicole Brown opts for practical advice over pat answers. “As you guys serve today, you’ll see some chronic illness. You’ll see folks who may never be job-ready,” she says. “But they still deserve to be housed, still deserve to be smiled at.”
The Twitter volunteers pose for a quick photo (making heart signs with their hands), then file downstairs to begin their shift.
“I’ve discovered a brokenness in the tech community. They’re not always good at creating humanity,” Reverend Williams says.
There is, of course, the obvious reason for Williams to cultivate a relationship with tech: The Sunday donation basket only gets so full. In addition to its volunteers, Twitter has kicked in cash grants of more than $150,000. Google gave Glide $100,000 for an electronic storage system designed to give the underhoused ready access to personal documents for housing applications. Microsoft has given hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of software. Salesforce sends over more employees than any other company, last year hitting the 1-million-hours mark. Dropbox has sent volunteers and donated food and money on Valentine’s Day for the past two years.
For Williams, though, embracing tech isn’t just about money. “I’ve discovered a brokenness in the tech community. It has to do with self-definition. They’re not always good at creating humanity,” he tells me. The companies aren’t just benefactors, in other words; in a sense they’re also clients.
If you belong to the tech world and feel an objection welling up, know that brokenness is not a crime in Williams’ book. On the contrary, it’s the channel on which we all relate. We’re sitting in his office with Mirikitani—a poet and activist, as well as his wife of nearly 35 years. She’s a striking woman, hair tossed Cyndi Lauper–ishly to the side, with a quick mind that toggles between the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and her early years in an internment camp in Arkansas. She and Williams have a familiar banter (“Can I speak?” “No.”), and on the subject of tech’s spiritual needs, they finish each other’s sentences. “I believe we’re more connected by our wounds than our comfort zones,” she says. “If a CEO is wounded by something, a connection to that would be stronger than money.” Put another way, the tech world’s C-suites could need salvation more than stock options.
The Zendesk crew is finishing packing needle kits when Vieto, the health services navigator, begins talking about Narcan, a medication that can yank opioid users out of an overdose, which his team has begun distributing to users.
“Do you have any stats on how many Glide clients are using it?” asks Zendesk’s corporate social responsibility program coordinator. In response Vieto tells an anecdote about a woman who seemed lifeless when they found her, barely breathing. A shot of Narcan and she was not only revived but chatty. Soon after, she came by Glide for training on how to administer the medication to others.
An ordinary question; a reply that didn’t quite answer it but was engaging nonetheless. I’d have given this little side step no thought if I hadn’t already discussed with various Glide workers the broader schism it seems to represent.
“We noticed early on that when people from the tech community help, they’re very interested in metrics,” Kyriell Noon, senior director of programs, tells me. “They want to see the data, and they want to know the ROI for their giving.”
“They’re obsessed with impact!” Glide’s James Lin joked.
On its surface, impact would seem a reasonable obsession if you’re sinking time and money into helping people in need. But here’s the thing: When you’re working with layers upon layers of brokenness—when you’re confronting the worst of what our economy can do to people in 2016—the ROI can be minimal.
“Imagine a client who’s doubly or triply diagnosed, someone simultaneously juggling delusion, serious illness, addiction, homelessness, a history of domestic violence,” Noon says. “Just getting this person through a day can be a massively inefficient proposition. It takes someone to pick them up at the shelter, to help them with their Muni voucher to get to a doctor’s appointment, to advocate for them at the appointment, to go to the pharmacy for the prescription and to help them take it, and so on.”
Being pressed for data isn’t a big deal, Noon says, and in a way it’s been a helpful nudge for the team to log what it can. But for all the measurable success of a program like a needle exchange, some of the most ambitious efforts at Glide move the dial in no immediately recognizable way. That can be a stark reality to absorb in an industry whose very existence is premised on transforming the world. In a way, Glide has become a lab, with the accidental effect of illuminating how tech does and does not approach nontech problems.
Needle kits complete, the Zendeskers are thanked and turned loose. The distribution of the kits falls to Glide’s harm reduction outreach team; volunteers can’t accompany them until they’ve had six months of training. With the provisions that I wear a Glide sweatshirt and generally keep my mouth shut, I am allowed to come along for a day. We set out toward Civic Center, hoisting bins of clean needles and condoms and other implements for reducing harm.
The despair feels comprehensive, a thoroughness of dysfunction abutting one of the world’s great spigots of wealth.
As we walk I try to see these blocks as a new arrival might. In many ways the Tenderloin looks like a movie version of poverty: garishly, baroquely, almost implausibly destitute. It’s not just the many humans lying on the sidewalk (unclear sometimes whether alive or dead). It’s not the overt shooting up or the public psychotic episodes or the guy in a blazer and sweatpants shouting, “Can I get a job? Can I get a job? Can I get a job?” It is the extent of all that. The despair feels comprehensive, a thoroughness of dysfunction abutting one of the world’s great spigots of wealth. The median household income in the Tenderloin was $12,210 in 2013. A few blocks away, in the Financial District, the number was $115,233, according to The New York Times.
All this makes it strange to say that the Tenderloin also feels like a happy place in ways. For the suffering, there’s a warmth here, a distinct conviviality, that stands out against the heads-buried-in-iPhones parts of town. People hang out on corners talking about how last night was or what so and so is up to. The colorful dive bars and funky theater spaces longtime San Franciscans miss? They’re still here. It feels worth noting this, if for no other reason than to draw a clearer bead on a place that can feel overburdened by outsider gloom.
“Harm reduction kits!” the team calls as we walk, and a segment of San Francisco that I’ve only ever seen in the shadows begins to emerge. Some people, lost in private trances, take what they need and drift away. But most stick around and chat. A Don Henley–looking fellow offers an assessment of the mayor. An older woman just out of prison reflects on freedom. The Glide team talks to them all with a respect bordering on deference. If they run out of a certain type of needle, Vieto or another worker apologizes profusely.
At the center of the day’s operation is Bill Buehlman, the outreach coordinator for Glide’s harm reduction programs. He’s a muscular guy with a simmering intensity; everywhere we set up shop, he grins and takes a wide power stance, as though prepping for God knows what—which, in fact, he has lived through. Before coming to Glide he was a user, did time in Texas and California. Many harm reduction workers are in recovery, giving extra resonance to the movement’s mantras, which are Glide’s mantras: No judgment. Unconditional acceptance. Meet people where they’re at.
At one point—in front of City Hall, a gold-leafed, beaux arts beauty—Vieto spots a young man struggling to get a needle into his vein. A phlebotomist by training, Vieto says he is tempted to help him with the injection. If the needle hits muscle rather than a vein, Vieto explains, the guy’s drugs will be wasted, which means he’ll likely engage in even more dangerous behavior to score again. In a way, helping would constitute the full realization of the team’s philosophy: literally facilitating heroin use in order to reduce greater harm.
Tech is always looking for that elegant little fix that leverages a small amount of work to crack an outsize problem. Except when it can’t.
Instead Vieto gives him a sterile needle kit and some wisdom about vein care. As I watch I can’t help noticing an unlikely affinity between harm reduction and tech. Both prefer evidence-based, real-world solutions over blind ideology; both traffic in a clear-eyed approach to problem solving. Meet people where they’re at. If the people aren’t happy with taxis, devise an alternative to meet their needs. Squint and you can see Cecil Williams as an early pioneer of user-centered design, as it were.
But it’s also easy to see how a tech company could float off in a bubble of underbaked solutioneering, often most markedly in the murky realm of helping. Every few months another app promises to bring tech’s disruptive power to bear on our most intractable problems. Last year saw the launch of Concrn, an app that dispatches civilian volunteers to nonviolent crisis situations in the Tenderloin; sometimes the civilians play the trumpet, to bring some playfulness to tense situations. In lieu of meaningful medical intervention, they come bearing water and granola bars.
In his book Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology, computer scientist and former tech evangelist Kentaro Toyama writes about tech’s enthusiasm for silver bullets—your poverty-disrupting One Laptop per Child programs, your inequality-leveling Khan Academies. Tech is always looking for that elegant little fix, he writes, that leverages a small amount of work to crack an outsize problem. Except when it can’t. In the most damaged corners of society the problems are so complex and sui generis that the reverse is true: It can take tons of effort to make the slightest headway. It’s a painstakingly analog approach Glide takes. The deepest poverty in the Tenderloin simply can’t be hacked.
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It is a chilly Friday night, and a well-heeled, invite-only crowd has gathered at Dirty Water, an upscale bar on the ground floor of the Twitter building. The Warren Buffett Annual Power Lunch Auction Countdown Party is like any fund-raiser—wine, hors d’oeuvres, balled-up napkins—but for the prominent placement of two TV screens. The left features a photo of Buffett himself, grinning impishly beside a large number: $2,800,000. That is the current bid on a private luncheon with the famed investor. For 17 years, ever since he was introduced to Williams by his then-wife, a Glide congregant, Buffett has been donating the proceeds of this event to the church. The idea of the fund-raiser tonight is to mill around while that dollar figure grows. The right screen shows Game Four of the NBA finals. Warriors up by 2.
“There are real issues about displacement and gentrification, but it’s stereotypical to say tech doesn’t care,” eBay CEO Devin Wenig says.
For an hour or so the party thrums along. A real estate agent talks about helping Reddit with its recent move into the Tenderloin. An advertising executive tells me about her startup idea. The Glide Ensemble sings on one side of the bar, and the Warriors crowd gasps and cheers on the other. The auction is hosted by eBay, and CEO Devin Wenig opines on his industry’s relationship with the Tenderloin. “There are real issues about displacement and gentrification, but it’s stereotypical to say tech doesn’t care,” he tells me. When Williams and Mirikitani materialize, a stream of admirers line up to have photos taken with them. There are so many people waiting, the couple just keeps smiling as posers cycle in and out of the frame. And then the evening takes a turn.
The auction deadline nearing, Williams stands to give remarks—at the very moment Steph Curry hits a jumper. The crowd roars, and a flicker of confusion crosses Williams’ face. He leans farther into the microphone, but the game has gone into overdrive; the roar pivots into a permanent din, impervious to shushing. Inclusivity. Love. You can hear one out of five words Williams says. Wenig takes the mic, tells the crowd how important Glide is to eBay’s 34,000-plus employees. “We do what we can,” he says. Another roar for the Warriors. Mirikitani attempts an intervention—“This is your mom talking, I want to tell everyone that’s chatting to pay attention”—but she is no match for Curry, or the timing of the universe.