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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a friend to the tech industry, dies at age 65

Key Points
  • San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has died at age 65.
  • He reportedly suffered a heart attack.
  • Lee worked to build affordable housing for San Francisco's residents.
Ed Lee, mayor of San Francisco, speaking during a news conference outside City Hall. Photographer: Josh Edelson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg | Getty

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday. He was 65.

"It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday," the mayor's office said, according to news reports.

Lee first took office in January 2011, becoming San Francisco's 43rd mayor, when he was appointed to replace Gavin Newsom as Newsom became California's lieutenant governor. He won election in 2011, and re-election in 2015. He was the first elected mayor of Chinese descent in a city steeped in Chinese American history.

Lee was considered highly friendly to the local tech industry. His election campgins supported by high-profile tech industry luminaries like investor Ron Conway and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and he often spoke at tech industry events.

While he was mayor, San Francisco implemented tax incentives that encouraged pre-IPO tech companies to relocate to the Mid-Market neighborhood, near downtown. That neighborhood, which was filled with abandoned storefronts in 2010, has been radically transformed as companies such as Twitter, Uber, Zendesk, and Square all built major new headquarters there.

However, housing costs have skyrocketed as high-paid tech workers have flooded the city, and San Francisco suffers a persistent and highly visible homeless problem, with between 6,500 and 7,500 people living on the streets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Tent encampments are common just blocks away from Twitter headquarters.

Lee collapsed at a supermarket near his home on Monday night, and was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he died early Tuesday morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Board of Supervisors President London Breed will become acting mayor.

Lee, who took office in 2011, is survived by his wife Anita and daughters Brianna and Tania.

-- Reuters contributed to this report