Community Spotlight: Priya Natasha Gupta
Tech workers from across the Bay Area have joined TechEquity’s network and are giving their time, skills, and financial support to make their communities more equitable. We’re proud of our growing community full of smart, passionate, engaged citizens and we want to show them off!
Bay Area native Priya Gupta, 34, travels around the globe as part of the Events Team at TechCrunch. In addition to finding the best cocktail bars abroad, Priya enjoys spin class, concerts, destination half marathons with friends, and exploring Oakland, where she currently lives. Prior to living in the East Bay, she taught English in Bangkok, Thailand for half a year and also spent nearly 3 years working and living in NYC. Her favorite Thai dish is green curry chicken fried rice, and she is always trying to find the best burritos in the Mission.
What is your professional passion these days?
My passion is bringing events around the world to life through technology and diversity. Being on the Events Team at TechCrunch enables me to travel to different locations all over the U.S. and overseas to learn more about startup ecosystems. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Detroit, Madison, Chicago, Tennessee, New York, Boston, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. There I’ve encouraged startups in these regions to have a presence at TechCrunch’s flagship conferences, Disrupt San Francisco and Disrupt Berlin.
There’s a perception that startup innovation only stems from Silicon Valley, but that’s far from true — there’s so much happening in the Midwest, the South, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and so much more. My goal is to have more global representation at each event we host.
We’ve also done fascinating things in the past, such as bringing in high school and college students for a full day of programming at Disrupt, featuring nonprofits who are using technology to make an impact in the world, connecting underrepresented startups with VCs, and more. Most recently, I was proud to have a presence from TechEquity as a nonprofit at Disrupt SF 2019!
What does it mean to you to be a responsible citizen while working in tech?
To me, being a responsible citizen while working in tech means a few things: The first is being self-aware of what’s going on around us. As a Bay Area native, I’ve seen the gentrification and wild rent increases over the years. I’ve also seen the homelessness rate increase with my own eyes — I left the Bay Area in 2012 and returned in 2016, and the same streets that I used to go running through SF were lined with tents of unhoused people 4 years later, which blew my mind. Clearly we’re not taking care of our most vulnerable neighbors in the midst of our housing crisis, and we need to think about how we as tech workers fit into this puzzle.
The second way to be a responsible citizen is to be curious. As a tech worker, it was so hard for me to find an affordable apartment in 2016. I wondered how other communities would be able to afford housing — I tried to research and figure out how I could help.
The third way to be responsible is to show up and get involved. That could be in several different forms: volunteering, voting, reading/learning, etc. — for me, it was joining TechEquity Collaborative. A friend luckily told me about the organization in late 2018, and one year later here I am, much more educated. One of my favorite TechEquity events was a book club discussion on the book Generation Priced Out — I highly recommend it.
How has TechEquity impacted civic participation?
TechEquity has made it easy for people to be aware of the housing crisis in the Bay Area and various cities in the country as a whole. Before TechEquity came along, I had no idea about the complex history of San Francisco’s housing policies and was overwhelmed by all the different bills that are on voting ballots. Not gonna lie, it was truthfully confusing for me to understand which way to vote on certain things and the implications these bills can have!
TechEquity has an awesome series of events that welcomes all people to participate in, including webinars, book clubs, walking tours, and member meetups. Each of these events provides a space for people to feel comfortable asking questions and get educated. Everyone that I’ve met from TechEquity is passionate — it only took a few events for me to feel informed about the impact the organization is trying to make here in the Bay Area.
Why is it important for the tech community to become more civically engaged?
I think that it’s easy for the tech community to get comfortable where they work. A lot of companies in the Bay Area offer high compensation and a plethora of perks, as most people know. With this kind of daily lifestyle, it can be natural to go about life day-in and day-out and forget about the other communities around us who don’t necessarily have those privileges and are getting pushed out. It’s our duty to make sure we’re civically engaged in order to keep diversity growing. The Bay Area prides itself on being a melting pot in all shapes and forms, and we need to continue to stay engaged to uphold that.
We are organizing the tech community to advocate for a tech-driven economy in the Bay Area that works for everyone. We believe the tech industry can and should generate widespread opportunity instead of inequality and displacement. Join our growing community today!