Bob Lee’s Murder Fuels Tech Exec Concerns San Francisco is Deteriorating

Google and Salesforce have lobbied to build more affordable homes, but the effect on homelessness has been limited.

Tents on the streets of San Francisco.
Homeless tents are seen along Embarcadero Street during heavy rain in San Francisco on January 11, 2023. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the wake of the fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee in San Francisco on April 4, local residents and leaders of the tech industry took to social media to express their shock and concern over public safety in the city widely regarded as a global hub for tech startups. Entrepreneurs based in San Francisco, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, have advocated for years to make the city safer, but the booming tech industry they have created is also part of the problem in the first place.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a href="">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

Lee, 43, was fatally stabbed in the early morning on Tuesday while walking in San Francisco’s downtown Rincon Hill neighborhood, an affluent area where the median home price is $1.15 million and averages over $1,000 in price per square foot.

“He was in the ‘good’ part of the city and appeared to have been targeted in a random mugging/attack,” tweeted mixed martial arts champion Jake Shields, a friend of Lee’s, on April 4.

Few details are known about the incident, and the San Francisco Police Department hasn’t made any arrests.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk said many people he knows have been “severely assaulted” in San Francisco. “Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately,” Musk tweeted yesterday (April 5). In the same post, he asked San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins if the city was “taking stronger action to incarcerate repeat offenders.”

Lee was an early investor in Musk’s rocket and satellite company, SpaceX.

Lee recently left San Francisco after seeing the city ‘deteriorating’

Lee had recently relocated to Miami, his father Rick Lee said in a Facebook post yesterday. He moved because he felt San Francisco was “deteriorating,” Shields said in an interview with NewsNation yesterday, adding that he wasn’t sure why Lee had returned.

Lee sold his four-bedroom home in San Francisco’s Mill Valley for $4.4 million in July of last year, the New York Post reported.

“He was in [a] neighborhood where apartments start at $5,000 a month,” tweeted Shields, who said he used to live in an apartment. “When we pay that much in taxes and are not protected, we are living in a failed city.”

“The city — it has had problems for a while. But it’s very clear to anyone that’s been there for a long time that it keeps getting worse,” Shields told NewsNation. “People talk and say they’re going to do things, but no one does anything.”

Shields said he moved to Las Vegas after his girlfriend was robbed in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s crime problem is complicated

Violent crimes, including homicides, are actually rare in San Francisco compared with other major U.S. cities. In 2020 (the most recent year of available data), the city ranked 14th in the U.S. for violent crimes per 100,000 residents, according to FBI data reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco ranked even lower (18th) for murders, with five reported murders per 100,000 residents in 2020. In 2021, the murder rate increased to 6.9 per 100,000 residents, still far lower than most major U.S. cities.

However, property crimes, such as larceny theft and burglary, are rampant in San Francisco, which has the second highest property crime rate among the 10 most populous cities in California.

Studies have shown a strong correlation between property crimes and homelessness, a stubborn issue in San Francisco created in part by the area’s booming tech industry. High-paying tech jobs have sent home prices skyrocketing in the past few decades. Businesses in the Bay Area, including Google and Salesforce, have lobbied for legislation or funded projects to build more affordable homes, but the effect on homelessness has been limited.

Bob Lee’s Murder Fuels Tech Exec Concerns San Francisco is Deteriorating