In the great bubble debate, Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway and son Topher are on the side of the naysayers.
The duo, who investment firm SV Angel, don’t have concerns “on the horizon about the overall economy,” as former TechCrunch editor and founder of CrunchFund Michael Arrington put it during a fireside chat at TechCrunch-hosted conference Disrupt SF.
Topher said the rise in the number of "unicorns," or privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion, is keeping pace with a general increase in the number of startups being founded. (The venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term.)
The elder Conway chalked up concerns about a bubble to people fixating on private investments.
“I think people are obsessing over one of the investment categories. Let’s obsess over NASDAQ and NYSE as well,” he said.
Conway also said the tech industry is a driving force in the housing crisis in San Francisco, and said he wanted San Francisco residents who work in tech to vote “yes” on a proposition aimed at funding an affordable housing program.
The city “has a huge housing problem and the tech industry has a lot to do with the housing issue,” Conway said.
The so-called “Godfather of Silicon Valley” is founder of civic organization sf.citi, which advocates for the interests of tech companies in the city. He is also a major financial supporter of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who is running for reelection.
The angel investor said that while tech had improved the economy of the area, adding 101,000 jobs in San Francisco since 2011 and driving the unemployment rate down to less than four percent, a byproduct of the boom was the housing crisis.
Proposition A, the proposition Conway singled out for support, would authorize the city to issue bonds totaling up to $310 million for an affordable housing program.