Tech billionaire gives $2 million to save San Francisco shopping districts

Kristen Sze Image
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Tech billionaire gives $2M to save SF shopping districts
A Bay Area man donated $2 million to 50 organizations in an effort to revitalize San Francisco's shopping district, including Union Square.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tech billionaires get a bad name in the Bay Area, but one has just donated $2 million to 50 organizations in a new effort to revitalize San Francisco's shopping district, including the city's crown jewel or retail, Union Square.

Chris Larsen is the co-founder and executive chairman of the blockchain-based payments firm, Ripple.

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Forbes put the serial entrepreneur and angel investor's net worth at $4.3 billion in 2022. And he's using some of that money to improve his hometown during a challenging time for the city.

Larsen joined ABC7 News anchor Kristen Sze on the 3 p.m. show "Getting Answers" to talk about the grants and his approach to improving the city through its neighborhood shopping districts and downtown.

Watch the full interview in our media player above.

Larsen says most of these grants go toward simple, effective and non-controversial improvements such as lights and public art. He has previously funded security cameras and pandemic recovery projects.

Sze asked whether criticism against tech billionaires for driving up housing costs, traffic and some say indirectly, homelessness, is fair. Larsen was direct about tech's responsibility.

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"There is responsibility for sure because prices have gone up... I think one of the problems with tech is they haven't engaged, right? It's sort of like 'I love the city, this is awesome,' but you know all this vitriol, I'm just going to stand back. We can't do that anymore. We have to engage, even if it gets unpleasant sometimes. The business community, the tech community, has to be there and be part of these solutions."

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