A tech worker wearing Google Glass was recently attacked in a San Francisco bar by assailants who mentioned that people like her were “destroying the city”. First reported by SF Gate as “the latest backlash against San Francisco’s tech industry” this small news item has quickly gained international coverage, turning it into a broader PR crisis for Google’s wearable device.
Considering how viral this story has become, it illustrates how the tech industry’s PR problem in San Francisco is no longer just a local controversy, but capable of impacting the global perception of its products too. Google Glass already attracts controversy, but because public anger over Google buses in San Francisco has reached such a pitch, anyone wearing Glass in the Bay Area can now be perceived as a conspicuous symbol (and unfortunate scapegoat) for that larger controversy. (Which is a major reason why this Glass attack story is reverberating through media and social networks around the world.) To be sure, the SF tech industry backlash involves a lot of complex issues, not all of which SF tech companies can solve themselves. But until tech’s PR perception in San Francisco is much better addressed, we’re likely to read stories like this for quite some time -- not just around products from Google, but products from other tech companies with as contentious a presence in the city by the Bay.