San Francisco mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday morning, leaving behind a conflicted legacy in a city known for innovation but afflicted with homelessness, income inequality, and rising housing costs.
The champion of local tech and industry died of undisclosed causes at age 65 in the recently renamed Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, which had benefitted from a $75 million-donation from the Facebook founder.
Lee, who first got into politics as a lawyer fighting for tenants’ rights, was often criticized for what seemed to be a soft spot for tech companies and the money and people the industry brought into the Bay Area.
The tech community came out to remember the city leader that embraced local business Tuesday. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone led the charge, tweeting about the “all around good guy” early in the morning morning. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted the post.
RIP Ed Lee, San Francisco’s first Asian American mayor and all around good guy.
— Biz Stone (@biz) December 12, 2017
Stone was joined by Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, PayPal cofounder Max Levchin and others in the tech community locally and across the country.
I’m so sad to hear of the passing of Mayor Ed Lee, one of the nicest & kindest leaders I’ve ever known. I’ll always remember my favorite lunch with him where he asked me to focus Salesforce on improving the SFUSD Middle Schools. May the one who brings peace bring peace to all. pic.twitter.com/YGiQNBb7Mb
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) December 12, 2017
My heart is with San Francisco today. My career would not exist if it weren’t for leaders who were so tech friendly like Ed Lee.
Hope all my friends down there celebrate his life tonight 💕
— Kelly Clay (@kellyhclay) December 12, 2017
Sad to read of the passing of San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee. He worked long and hard with the tech industry for the betterment of his city…
— Ben Kepes (@benkepes) December 12, 2017
Lee became known for a policy known as the “Twitter tax break” that let companies like Twitter, Yelp, Airbnb and Zendesk avoid some $34 million in city payroll taxes to keep headquarters in a San Francisco neighborhood. Uber’s headquarters are a block from Twitter.
The ride-hailing app also tweeted its condolences about Lee’s death.
A San Francisco magazine profile from 2012 talked about Lee’s “Tech Tuesday” tradition where he met with workers from SF-based companies like Yelp or Pinterest. The article noted his tech coziness, insisting, “Lee has been moving quickly to align his administration with the booming technology industry, shrugging off complaints from the city’s powerful progressives that he’s gotten too cozy with tech moguls, such as investor Ron Conway.”
Others voiced criticism of the mayor’s relationship with tech companies.
So sad to hear about Ed Lee. 65 is too young. I didn’t always agree w/ him, particularly the way he catered to tech co’s, but I remember moving to SF and thinking it was pretty cool, and rare, to live in a city with an Asian American mayor.
— 🇹🇭☃️sabrina claus ☃️🇹🇭 (@sabrina) December 12, 2017
Despite the differing takes on Lee’s legacy, almost 40,000 tweets were posted about the mayor in the San Francisco area since his death was reported.