“I fundamentally believe that doing good is good for business.”
Seeing Daniel Lurie walking down the streets of San Francisco, you might assume he’s a young start-up exec. He’s clean-cut, casually stylish, and talks with a nerdy confidence that he can achieve his world-changing goals. His goals are indeed lofty: The 40-year-old is the founder and CEO of Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit that recently announced a $100 million pledge to cut chronic homelessness in the Bay Area in half over the next five years. It plans to spend the money on creating permanent housing and tackling the root causes of homelessness by improving the mental health, child welfare, and criminal justice systems. That’s a tall order: San Francisco has roughly 7,500 homeless residents, according to the latest count. In recent years, the city has boasted both the highest rents in the country and the highest rate of unsheltered homelessness. In 2015, 1 in 200 San Franciscans was sleeping on the streets.
Lurie, a San Francisco native (no relation to the author), was raised by philanthropists. His stepfather Peter Haas, the former president of Levi Strauss & Co., has donated millions to early childhood development and education programs for the city’s poorest kids, among other causes. In 2005, Lurie founded Tipping Point with the goal of redirecting the region’s wealth to confront the city’s intractable poverty. The group’s funders include tech giants like Google, Adobe, and Apple, whose money is then donated a curated list of local education, employment, housing, and child development organizations. Lurie is well suited for the job: He’s connected with the city’s elite (he’s on a first-name basis with Mayor Ed Lee and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff) and speaks readily about the poverty gap and the importance of teaching his kids to give back to their community.
I chatted with Lurie about what Silicon Valley companies can do to help bridge the massive gap between Bay Area’s rich and poor.
Mother Jones: Homelessness in San Francisco seems intractable. Does that give you pause?