What We Know About Bob Lee, the Money App Founder Killed in San Francisco


Bob Lee, the well-known tech government and investor who created Money App, was fatally stabbed on a darkish, secluded San Francisco road on April 4.

The preliminary information of his loss of life elicited a livid response from a handful of Silicon Valley executives, together with the billionaire Elon Musk, who blamed metropolis leaders and steered that uncontrolled homelessness and violence in San Francisco led to the killing. These claims reignited a debate about public security and public coverage within the metropolis.

However the subsequent week, after the authorities charged one other tech entrepreneur with the homicide, the case additional uncovered tensions between the tech trade and the town. Many residents — together with some throughout the tech sector — accused trade leaders of constructing snap judgments and utilizing the tragedy to advance their political agenda.

The fees additionally raised questions on what precisely led to the deadly assault. Here’s what we learn about Mr. Lee’s loss of life and the fissures it has revealed in San Francisco.

Mr. Lee returned to San Francisco typically and was the chief product officer of the cryptocurrency start-up MobileCoin when he died. He was the daddy of two teenage daughters, who each lived within the metropolis together with his former spouse.

“Bob would provide the shirt off his again,” his father wrote in a Fb submit after his loss of life. “He would by no means look down on anybody and adhered to a strict no-judgment philosophy.”

Earlier than taking up the function at MobileCoin in 2021, Mr. Lee was instrumental within the creation of Money App, a service that permits customers to shortly ship and obtain cash from their telephones. He was admired amongst engineers for his work as a software program engineer at Google, the place he labored on Android, an working system for smartphones. He was additionally a start-up adviser, investing in firms that embody SpaceX and Clubhouse, in line with an older LinkedIn web page.

He befriended many within the tech world and was shut with Jack Dorsey, the founding father of Twitter, who shared a screenshot of the first-ever Money App trade — $4 despatched to him from Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee was in San Francisco for enterprise and to go to members of the family after lately relocating to Miami. In response to the paperwork launched by prosecutors, who’ve charged the entrepreneur Nima Momeni with the homicide, Mr. Lee was ingesting with Mr. Momeni’s youthful sister, Khazar Momeni, at an condo in downtown San Francisco the afternoon earlier than Mr. Lee died. A witness described by prosecutors as a longtime buddy of his stated that he and Mr. Lee then went to Mr. Lee’s lodge room, the place Mr. Momeni questioned him over the telephone about “whether or not his sister was doing medicine or something inappropriate.”

The witness stated that Mr. Lee reassured Mr. Momeni that “nothing inappropriate had occurred,” the doc states. The witness stated that he and Mr. Lee continued to hang around till after midnight. Surveillance footage confirmed that Mr. Lee then went to Ms. Momeni’s residence at a luxurious condo constructing for roughly 80 minutes.

In response to the charging paperwork, video confirmed Mr. Lee and Mr. Momeni leaving collectively in Mr. Momeni’s BMW, which he parked on a road. In a while that road, Mr. Lee was stabbed twice within the chest and as soon as within the hip, an act that seems to have been captured in grainier photographs from a extra distant digicam.

Prosecutors accused Mr. Momeni of stabbing Mr. Lee with the four-inch blade of a kitchen knife earlier than throwing it within the parking zone and dashing away in his automotive, leaving Mr. Lee to “slowly die” on the road.

Surveillance digicam footage caught Mr. Lee staggering and clutching his wounds on a road exterior a excessive rise, the place he referred to as for assist.

Every week later, after investigators had been capable of unlock Mr. Lee’s telephones, they found a textual content message from Ms. Momeni that prosecutors stated confirmed she was involved about Mr. Lee’s interplay along with her brother. “Simply wished to verify your doing okay Trigger I do know nima got here wayyyyyy down exhausting on you,” it learn, in line with court docket paperwork.

Mr. Momeni, the proprietor of a tech enterprise within the East Bay metropolis of Emeryville, was taken into custody and booked on Thursday into the San Francisco County Jail. He has not entered a plea. His lawyer, Paula Canny, stated prosecutors had been fallacious to accuse him of homicide as a result of they lacked proof of premeditation or malice.

She additionally stated that any dispute between Mr. Momeni and Mr. Lee had nothing to do with romance. “I wouldn’t describe this as a criminal offense,” Ms. Canny stated in a telephone interview.

Earlier than Mr. Lee’s loss of life, residents in San Francisco had already been divided of their views on crime. Final summer time, the town recalled its then district legal professional, Chesa Boudin, who was identified for progressive insurance policies akin to eliminating money bail and searching for to scale back jail populations, after two and a half years in workplace.

Recovering from the throes of the pandemic, the town’s downtown space is routinely empty of workplace employees and has seen a rise in folks dwelling in tent encampments and utilizing medicine in public areas. These upticks, in addition to a rise in property crimes, have induced some to accuse the town of being lenient with people who find themselves mentally ailing or are experiencing homelessness.

This set the stage for the preliminary reactions to Mr. Lee’s loss of life. Some tech executives shortly speculated that Mr. Lee’s loss of life was a random road crime — one enterprise capitalist, David Sacks, stated he would “guess {dollars} to dimes” that the killing was the identical as a loss of life in Los Angeles the place “a younger lady was principally stabbed for no cause by a psychotic homeless individual.”

Mr. Musk, the billionaire head of Twitter, which is predicated in San Francisco, replied “completely” to a tweet that included Mr. Sack’s response.

Many individuals, each inside and out of doors the tech trade, had been essential of these executives’ early reactions.

Brooke Jenkins, the San Francisco district legal professional who had criticized her predecessor as being too lenient on criminals, denounced Mr. Musk on Thursday, calling his response to Mr. Lee’s loss of life “reckless and irresponsible.”

Nationwide crime knowledge exhibits that the speed of violent crime has dipped or held regular over the previous a number of years within the metropolis of greater than 800,000 folks, and that the homicide fee in 2020 was low in contrast with that of different main American cities.

Nonetheless, some held on to the concept that it isn’t secure within the metropolis. On Thursday, Jason Calacanis, a tech investor who had spoken on Twitter about “rampant violence” within the metropolis, was requested if he had modified his thoughts after the arrest of Mr. Momeni. “When was the final time you walked a mile in San Francisco?” he replied by e-mail. “Do you suppose it’s secure?”

Brett Ashton, 56, who’s Black and has labored for tech firms within the Bay Space for greater than 30 years, stated he felt that Mr. Calacanis had crossed over into new territory by blaming the local people.

“Their feedback are very a lot about Black folks and brown folks and folks that don’t seem like them,” he stated. “They’re simply pushing a story that tech bros are being victimized by a dystopian hellscape.”

Amanda Holpuch and Kate Conger contributed reporting.