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Company Town

The once free-spirited city of San Francisco is now a 'Company Town,' a playground for tech moguls of the 'sharing economy.' Airbnb is the biggest hotel, Uber privatizes transit. And now these companies want political power as well.

Meanwhile, middle class and ethnic communities are driven out by gentrification, skyrocketing rents and evictions, sparking a grassroots backlash. Can an insurgent electoral campaign overcome corporate power and billionaires' megabucks to change a city's course?

COMPANY TOWN shows how a grassroots coalition of unions, tenants, neighborhoods of color, activists and artists can come together to win.

'I loved the film. Company Town can fuel discussion of urban revitalization policies in cities across the country looking to high tech and the sharing economy. Is it inevitable that the future is a luxury city that caters to the new knowledge workers and tourists? Or can the city be inclusive, valuing history, long term ethnic communities, and economic diversity? One grass-roots leader in the film notes, 'While change is inevitable, how we change is not, and we can steer change in a way that reflects our values.'' Dr. Elaine Simon, Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director of Urban Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania

'A rare look into the process of regulating the sharing economy. Balanced and focused, this documentary details the unintended consequences of Airbnb on communities and exposes the complexity of the sharing economy.' Abbey Stemler, Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Indiana University

' Company Town is a shot of political energy, just when we need it most - a valentine to the weird and wild hurly-burly of the electoral process at the grassroots level, from where true democracy springs.' David Talbot, founder of Salon, author, Season of the Witch and The Devil's Chessboard

'Politically important, wonderfully filmed, and suspenseful to the very end...Learn how the so-called sharing economy and tech industry transformed one of the world's most fascinating, progressive and quirky cities into a gentrified town dominated by billionaires.' Ruth Rosen, Professor Emerita of History, University of California - Davis

'Company Town offers a compelling look at how the sharing economy became the most heated issue in the always incendiary caldron of San Francisco politics. A local election becomes a referendum on the future of short-term rentals, and the divided city must decide whether to align itself with the tech world that is its economic life blood or to preserve its historic, affordable, and neighborly way of life.' Stephen R. Miller, Associate Professor of Law, University of Idaho

'A 'must watch' documentary...Company Town artfully peels back the shadow side of the 'sharing economy' and its billionaire beneficiaries - who pit struggling families against one another over a few square feet to live.' Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, Author, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good

'I was thrilled by Company Town's virtuoso storytelling, its compassion, and the message that democracy can actually win the fight (sometimes!) against our corporate overlords.' Josh Kornbluth, Monologuist and Filmmaker

'Airbnb talks of sharing and of building better communities, but Company Town uncovers a reality of evictions and frayed neighborhoods. It's a tale of a 2016 city election in San Francisco, but it's also the disturbing story of how Silicon Valley money and influence is dividing cities between the haves and have-nots.' Tom Slee, Author, What's Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy

'Riveting...This high minded film lets the personal stories it has uncovered speak the truth to us in a way that 'disrupts the disrupters'... The best kind of story-telling.' Steven Hill, Huffington Post, Author, Raw Deal: How the Uber Economy is Screwing American Workers

'Fascinating, wonderful, and lively.' Tim Redmond, 48 Hills

'Catnip for political junkies.' Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

'The film both documents the ravages of tech's impact on affordable housing and offers tentative solutions and possible new heroes.' David Lamble, Bay Area Reporter

'Critic's Choice...Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow's perceptive documentary digs beneath the hype.' San Francisco Film Critics Circle

'It may just be the finest political film of the year.' Kelly Vance, East Bay Express

'A sassy, intimate, and engrossing..Company Town is a timely reminder about what it takes to win a campaign when you're up against an entrenched candidate with Big Money backing.' Gar Smith, The Berkeley Daily Planet


Main credits

Snitow, Alan (film director)
Snitow, Alan (film producer)
Kaufman, Deborah (film director)
Kaufman, Deborah (film producer)

Other credits

Edited by Manuel A. Tsingaris; principal cinematography, Andy Black [and 3 others].

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Asian American Studies
Digital Revolution
Labor and Work Issues
Political Science
Science, Technology, Society
Sharing Economy
Social Change
Social Stratification
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning


grassroots movement, Citizens United, corporate power, sharing economy, stop gentrification. San Francisco's future, city council election, big tech, Airbnb, Uber, privatizing transit, political power, destroying middle-class and ethnic communities, skyrocketing rents, evictions, city supervisors' election, digital revolution, Lyft, district three, city hall, Aaron Peskin, Ed Lee, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, Mission District, Julie Christensen, Union Square, financial district, Eastern waterfront, Ferry Building, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Chinatown, North Beach, Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf, Google buses, Silicon Valley, Brian Chesky, Ron Conway, Moon Festival, Shaw San Liu, Gordon Chin, Louie Fong Kwong Association, campaign money, KALW, protesting Uber, San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, grassroots vs big money, Patrick Hannon, Proposition F, No on F, Willie Brown, Club Fugazi, Cafe Zoetrope, Koch brothers; "Company Town"; Bullfrog Films