At Google, the people who spoon out gourmet lunches to the Mountain View struggle to feed themselves. At Tesla Motors, chariot-builders of the geek elite, working at the corporate cafeteria means you might not be able to afford your own home.
Bloomberg reports from Palo Alto, where rents are spiking—even in historically affordable locales—and wages for menial jobs are stuck in the past. The combination is exactly what you'd assume: the people who do things for the people at the tech companies are being priced out of their own roofs by the tech companies:
Virginia Valencia earns $12 an hour in the cafeteria at Tesla Motors Inc. headquarters in Palo Alto, California, where she serves breakfast to the staff and billionaire co-founder Elon Musk. He prefers juice to coffee, she said.
Valencia has been fighting eviction since she fell behind on her $1,064 rent payment in November. And she's not the only one. Each month, as many as 300 Woodland Park residents receive notices from Equity Residential giving them three days to pay or vacate their homes, according to an employee's sworn testimony in a lawsuit.
When Valencia laments that "It seems like they just don't want us here," she's not wrong: there's an entire wave of startups bent on destroying the service economy and remaking it in a more convenient, direct, mercenary mode. The more widely used an on-demand food-serving app becomes, for example, the more professional peril anyone with a food-serving job faces. Silicon Valley would turn services (and servers) into impulses without benefits or protections—what used to be labor can be more neatly packaged as an ad hoc "task" or "gig."
And so, Palo Alto turns its back on people who might've had to struggle to make ends meet working at a cafeteria for people who design $70,000 electric cars, but now have their very livelihood threatened. It'd be one thing if tech companies meant job creation that could promise the Virginia Valencias of Palo Alto a way of life. But at least there will be a part-time sock delivery gig waiting for her in San Francisco.
At least Valenica's boss is worried about the right things:
Bloomberg article today also has oddly false details. I don't eat breakfast at Tesla and drink coffee, not juice.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 7, 2014