Sean Parker, alleged bicyclist-hater.
Sean Parker is looking to bridge the delicate gap between tech disruptor and civic do-gooder. He may not be doing it right. His latest libertarian salvo: $49,000 to back an initiative that would give more power to San Francisco motorists.
The “Restore Transportation Balance” initiative will appear on the November ballot, and it includes provisions to increase parking availability, limit parking meters, fees, and tickets, and enforce stricter traffic laws on bicyclists. Besides Parker, backers of the bill include the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Republican Party.
So is Parker just reacting to his Tesla getting towed, or is there a more sincere stance here? Even with the roll back of Sunday meters, the city of San Francisco is awfully—and perhaps praiseworthily—anti-car. The rationale behind that hate seems pretty cut-and-dry. After all, this isn’t LA. We live in a seven by seven mile clusterfuck of narrow streets and windy steps. Is there really an argument to be made for more gas-guzzling machinery in these hills? It’s hard to tell sometimes whether Parker’s antics are deliberate moves to piss people off, or if it’s just a side-affect of his antagonistic brand of posturing ("A million cars isn't cool. You know what's cool?")
And generating antagonism is turning into Parker's main line of business.
Parker’s jump onto the Facebook train, thoroughly weasel-esque, lured an homage from one of the most preeminently likeable guys in the entertainment biz. His multimillion-dollar Lord of the Rings wedding in the redwoods drew outrage, even if his response to the criticism was well reasoned. Hell, his very career was sparked by becoming the snot-nosed Robin Hood of the music industry. The man conjures up controversy seemingly out of thin air. And he thrives on it.
So it should come as no surprise that Parker’s political efforts also beat to their own drum. On one hand, he’s given money to the Obama campaign, weed legalization, and Silicon Valley sweetheart Ro Khanna. On the other hand, he’s recently been filling the coffers of GOP super-PACS in a big way ($350,000 in 2014 alone, reports claim).
At the very least, Parker always appears earnest. He is the founder and executive chairman of the citizen engagement startup Brigade Media, which, though it has yet to release a product, has raised $9.3 million in funding this year and last month acquired the online campaign platforms Causes (another Parker project) and Votizen. The poli-tech enterprise has remained silent about future plans, besides Parker’s vague goal of becoming a platform centered on issues of voters who experience “apathy as a direct result of feeling disenfranchisement.”
If there’s one thing Parker is not, its disenfranchised.