One of the venture capital firms cofounded by Peter Thiel, the gay conservative business leader and entrepreneur who donated $1.25 million to Trump, has now invested in Yass, a trendy, new members-only “co-working space and social club” for the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community).
The location of Yass is in San Francisco’s Mission District and is slated to open this coming spring season. Media reports, citing a poll on the Yass website asking visitors whether they would like a branch in their city, speculate that the social club is considering a expansion and even a franchise model.
The opening of Yass was announced last month and will give the people with LGBTQ affiliations to pay a membership fees to be a part of events and gain access to a coworking area and the social club according to founder and CEO of Yass, Brian Tran.
Along with the ties to Thiel, to tech dominated Silicon Valley, and the location of Yass in a geography predominantly a neighbourhood of the Latino community, but has been rapidly giving way to refined middle class property developments, Yass will become a topic discussed with the proverbial raised eyebrows. Prefacing its opening, the project has conjured backlash in San Francisco, a city known internationally as a “gay mecca”, but a city with real estate so expensive that many of the cultural sites, haunts for LGBT nightlife and queer residents are slowly been wiped out for commercial projects.
Detractors of the project say such ‘members only’ clubs will bar low-income LGBTQ community entrance. “The LGBT community in San Francisco, we need a space. But we don’t need a space that is tainted by the hate of Donald Trump,” said David Campos, a former supervisor who represented the Mission and is gay, according to media reports. He had further said such developments with links to Thiel, infamous for funding a lawsuit which saw the demise of news organization, Gawker, should be discouraged.
The membership fee will range from $50 to $300 band is based on income level. Its founder vouches for the fact that Thiel isn’t involved and promises diversity and accessibility:
Tran, aged 25, said Thiel was not involved in the project, and has been funded by Cyan Banister, another partner at Thiel’s firm Founders Fund. Tran insisted that Yass, earlier financed by FF Angel, the firm’s early stage investment vehicle, was dedicated to being inclusive and accessible to a diverse group of queer people, not just tech workers.
“My commitment is to serving the queer community and their needs. And that is separate from what individuals at Founders Fund believe,” he said, adding that despite Thiel being a “controversial figure”, “I don’t know what his real intentions are, and it’s hard to make a judgment … Undeniably, he has made a large impact in our economy.”