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Molly Turner - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Molly Turner Molly Turner

Lecturer | Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley


Leading expert on urban technology



Areas of Expertise (6)

Urban Innovation

Tech Policy


Economic Development

Tourism Policy

Urban Planning


Molly Turner is a leading expert on technology startups and cities. Through her teaching at Haas and her work in the field, she has shaped the contemporary conversation about technology’s impacts on urban life and governance. At Haas, Turner teaches the popular class Tech and the City: How to Get Urban Innovation Right to graduate MBAs. She is also the co-host and co-producer of the podcast Technopolis from Atlantic Media and CityLab. Turner is deeply engaged in contemporary tech and urban policy issues through her advisory role with urban tech startups, and board membership of urban policy think tank SPUR.

Turner was an early employee of Airbnb, where she established the company’s public policy team in 2011 and directed its groundbreaking regulatory collaboration with cities. As the Global Head of Civic Partnerships, Turner directed Airbnb’s partnerships with governments around the world, including its international disaster response program, neighborhood tourism development program, and 2015 launch in Cuba. Before Airbnb, Turner worked for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the UNESCO World Heritage Cities Program, and an urban planning consulting firm. Turner holds a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard University and a BA from Dartmouth College.

Education (2)

Harvard University Graduate School of Design: MUP, Urban Planning

Dartmouth College: BA, Art History, Italian Literature

Selected External Service & Affiliations (4)

  • 2017 - present, Member, Housing Policy Committee, Tech Equity Collaborative
  • 2016 – Working Group on Innovation and Regulation, Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation
  • 2013 – present, Board of Directors, Tumml
  • 2013 – present, Board of Directors, SPUR

Languages (1)

  • Italian

Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 2016

2017 - present, Co-Host and Co-Producer, Technopolis podcast from Atlantic Media and CityLab 2016 – present, urban innovation advisor to tech startups and cities 2014 – 2011, Global Head of Civic Partnerships, and Director of Public Policy, Airbnb 2011, Neighborhood Development Researcher, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development 2010 – 2011, Sustainable Development Researcher, UNESCO World Heritage Center 2010, Sustainable Tourism Development Consultant, Solimar International 2006 – 2009, Regional Trip Manager and Leader, Backroads 2005 – 2006, Urban Planning Associate, Dyett and Bhatia

Media Appearances (7)

Robots kill jobs. Will the Bay Area be better off for it?

San Francisco Chronicle  online


It’s not hard to imagine blue-collar workers working in new kinds of manufacturing jobs that build and maintain robots, said Molly Turner, an urban planner by training and a lecturer on tech policy at Haas. “I think the threat of automation is real, especially for low-income, low-skilled workers,” she said. “But over the long-term, I do believe ... automation will create new kinds of jobs, as well.”

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Why Technology Hasn’t Fixed the Housing Crisis

The New York Times  online


“I don’t blame them for not being able to solve the root cause,” said Molly Turner, who lectures on urban innovation at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “If anything, I hope they make a ton of money and get a lot of clout, and then help advocate for the policy changes that we need.”...

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When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home

The Atlantic  online


“We seem to be having two separate conversations: one focused on getting around congestion with flying cars and boring tunnels, and another focused on actually solving congestion with pricing policies and public transit,” says Molly Turner, a lecturer at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Earlier this month, Musk publicly criticized plans to build high-speed rail in front of a room of mayors working on precisely those projects...

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Should Big Business Pay to Fight Homelessness, Transportation Woes? Voters Will Decide

The California Report  online


"With all of these business taxes right now, there's certainly an inspiration to take advantage of the enormous prosperity we have in the region, while we have it," said Molly Turner, a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business...

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Proposition C: Taxing Businesses to Fund Homeless Services

KQED Newsroom  online


With the midterm elections around the corner, campaigns are moving into high gear for the final stretch. An unprecedented number of women are running for office nationwide, and the trend is holding true for California, where polls suggest that Democrats may pick up some congressional seats. Meanwhile, Republicans are looking to galvanize voters by raising anti-tax sentiment and campaigning for Proposition 6, which would repeal the gasoline tax hike and increased vehicle license fees adopted last year...

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Should Startups Ask for Permission or Beg for Forgiveness?

Quartz  online


“A challenge with tech startups that want to solve urban problems is the venture model behind them is impatient and demands an insane amount of growth,” says Molly Turner, a professor of urban innovation at the Haas School of Business and a former director of Airbnb’s public-policy team. “That can be unhealthy and drive companies to make bad decisions about how they approach working with government, but can also be good in pushing governments to act more quickly on certain issues.”...

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Dockless Bikeshare Startup Spin Adds Some Big-names as Advisers

The Washington Post  online


Gabe Klein, former transportation chief in D.C. and Chicago, and Molly Turner, a former Airbnb public policy director and urban innovation professor at the University of California at Berkeley, will join O’Malley as strategic advisers for Spin, the company said...

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Selected Papers & Publications (6)

Homelessness in the Bay Area SPUR

Molly Turner


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In Review: Crowdsourcing the Built Environment Harvard Journal of Real Estate


The Impact of Home Sharing on Cities Cities Today

Molly Turner


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Letter from San Francisco: On Being an Urban Planner in the Tech World NextCity.org

Molly Turner


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Revealing the Level of Tension Between Cultural Heritage and Development in World Heritage Cities 6th International Seminar on Urban Conservation: Measuring Heritage Conservation Performance, 29-31 March 2011, Recife, Brazil / Ed. Scientific Committee

Molly Turner, Ana Pereira Roders and Marc Patry


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The Sustainability of Management Practices in the Old City of Salamanca Facilities

Molly Turner, Ana Pereira Roders and Angela Pons


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Teaching (1)

Tech & the City: How to Get Urban Innovation Right