Silicon Valley is, in theory, all about innovation and social change, but despises regulation, meaning the its most powerful leaders’ political leanings vary quite a bit. In past elections, tech millionaires and billionaires gave tons of money to both Democrats and Republicans, but 2016 is, unsurprisingly, not your average election.
A new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that Trump has received virtually no financial support from America’s wealthiest innovators. While Clinton has raked in over $30 million of support from the tech sector, Trump has received a mere $336,000. Compare that to Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, who received $7.9 million, $2.5 million, and $2.5 million respectively before they dropped out of the race. Even the spokesperson for Republican convention speaker Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who bankrupted Gawker Media, told the Wall Street Journal that Thiel “has no plans to donate to or raise money for Mr. Trump.”
Last month, 150 “technology sector leaders” including IAC CEO Barry Diller, venture capitalist Chris Sacca, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak signed an open letter on Medium denouncing Trump for campaigning “on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline,” which they believe directly conflicts with their vision of innovation. Trump’s immigration platform is also unappealing to the tech sector. In the words of the Silicon Valley elites themselves, “We believe that America’s diversity is our strength... In fact, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.” (Side note: If America’s diversity is our strength, why does Silicon Valley have a huge diversity problem?)
Tech leaders’ resistance to supporting Trump extends beyond their objection to Trump’s bigotry. His campaign has done little to court Silicon Valley and was strongly critical of Apple for not complying with the FBI after the San Bernardino shooting.
But moreover, supporting Trump is embarrassing, and tech leaders seem to really, really hate being embarrassed. (I get it. So do I!) Intel CEO Brian Krzanich canceled a fundraiser he planned for the candidate after the New York Times wrote about it. Trevor Traina, who founded an e-commerce company called IfOnly, told the Wall Street Journal that the media’s criticism of the fundraiser Krzanich planned “sent a chill down a number of spines” of the Republican tech elite. He referred to the whole thing as a “witch hunt.” I guess it truly is a scary time to be a conservative tech millionaire. Stay safe, boys.