Two Tales of Tech CEOs and the Homeless
First, the good:
The CNN video gives a good rundown of the saga of the “Journeyman Hacker”: a 23-year-old startup guy, Patrick McConlogue, noticed a homeless man, Leo Grand, benching chains—not a typical activity for the homeless in NYC. Intrigued and empathetic, McConlogue wrote this post on Medium (“Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code.”) wherein he outlined his plan to offer this man (he didn’t yet know Leo’s name) a leg up:
The idea is simple. Without disrespecting him, I will offer two options:
- I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.
This generated more than a little backlash from all corners of the Web…
… but it worked. Leo Grand chose the computer, and has now coded up a carpooling app aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in New York City. Some time later (as reported in the video) police arrested him for sleeping on a bench, and took his laptop as evidence. Fortunately another tech-angel (a Google employee who had been following the story) decided to take up the cause and donated a computer to him.
For what started out as a well-intentioned but vaguely condescending and tone-deaf Medium post, the story is, I think, a happy one. Hopefully Grand will continue to find success.
Now for the bad:
Greg Gopman, and his company, AngelHack, offer no apparent utility or value to our planet. It’s a startup that begets other startups, a hackathon for hackathons, an engorged, vomiting ouroboros in reverse. His pride orbits around organizing the “largest hackathons” in history—and given that a hackathon doesn’t mean much of anything, that’s about as weighty as telling the world’s longest knock knock joke, or blowing a trillion soap bubbles.
But Gopman thinks he’s earned some sort of high social spot, from which he can type out horrid Facebook updates like this one:
Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.
And I thought the “neo-reactionary” king-for-a-day dudebros were the bottom of the barrel. I’ll take a hundred privileged-but-willing-to-make-a-difference guys like McConlogue over even half a Gopman any day.