BUSH WHACK

What In Jesus’ Name Was This SF Tech Startup Thinking When It Let Jeb Bush Through The Door?

Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference, Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Coral Gables, Fla. Bush says he applauds the comprehensive reform bill formally unveiled Thursday in Washington and told conference attendees the bill tries to balance the immigrant experience and respect for the rule of law. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

What is the company Thumbtack up to exactly? On what planet (let alone San Francisco) would it seem like a good idea to invite an antigay, pro-discrimination, anti-choice, pro-gun candidate to use your fashionable San Francisco office space (complete with vertical bike storage and free lunches) as the backdrop for his transparent PR stunt?

Those are the questions we’re asking after GOP hopeful Jeb Bush made an appearance at the headquarters of the tech startup, which runs an online platform that promises to help “accomplish your personal projects” by connecting you to “pros,” painters, massage therapists, and the like.

Apparently, for the Thumbtack founders, their personal project is to get Bush elected, local commitment to equality be damned. The six year old company, in fact, was founded by Marco Zappacosta and Jonathan Swanson, who served in George W. Bush’s White House.

But at the same time, the founders are also aware that the GOP is not very popular in the city (and probably among Thumbtack employees), given it’s rabidly anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-everything stance. (We could go on.)

Which is why they were careful not to boast about the event, using the passive voice in describing what was obviously a carefully thought out invitation. Bush’s visit was described as simply “stopping by,” even though it featured a town hall meeting for 75 employees, rather than just a carefully scripted photo opp that even included an Uber ride to Thumbtack. (Jeb is only figuring out world-dominating Uber now? Does the oldest son of the famously wealth and out-touch-family even have the app on his iPhone? Inquiring minds want to know.)

Zappacosta, who has declined to say which candidate he supports (we’ll give you one guess), told The San Francisco Chronicle that his staff was pleased, rather than ticked off, by Bush’s visit. Although he admitted he does not know of any actual Republicans on his payroll, “I think the staff was excited that somebody wanted to come engage with us and that we would have a forum for asking them questions.”

We see what’s in it for Bush. He intentions couldn’t have been more clear: execute a “Jeb thinks outside the box and cares about small business, just like you” message to boost his image. It allows him to differential himself from Hillary Clinton, who just announced that she supports better wages and benefits for the part-time, temporary workers that Thumbtack and Uber, among others, have proliferated.

But what’s in it for Thumbtack? We hope Zappacosta and Swanson got something in return for making sure the name “Jeb Bush” comes up in Google searches for their company now. We certainly are going to look for our own “pros” elsewhere.