🔒 Tech Titans rally behind Trump: Silicon Valley’s political shift

In a convergence of tech moguls and political power, former President Donald Trump finds robust support within Silicon Valley’s elite. At a lavish fundraiser hosted by investor David Sacks and co-host Chamath Palihapitiya, tickets fetch staggering sums, reflecting intensified interest amid Trump’s recent legal battles. As the industry’s political landscape shifts, alliances blur, highlighting tech’s growing influence and diverse concerns. Amidst this dynamic backdrop, Trump’s resurgence marks a pivotal moment in Silicon Valley’s political engagement.

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By Sarah McBride

Wealthy donors are converging at the stately home of technology investor David Sacks Thursday for a sold-out fundraiser for former President Donald Trump. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Sacks is co-hosting the event at Broadcliff, his house in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, along with investor Chamath Palihapitiya. With tickets that start at $50,000 for a reception and photo and $300,000 for the dinner, the event has generated intense interest in Silicon Valley, particularly because it comes on the heels of Trump’s conviction on 34 counts of falsifying records.

That verdict has been followed by a swell of support for Trump in some corners of the tech world, including from Doug Leone, a former leader at the prestigious venture firm Sequoia Capital, and Shaun Maguire, a Sequoia partner who said last week he was giving $300,000 to Trump’s reelection. Other donors include Jacob Helberg, a senior advisor to the chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies Inc., who will also attend the fundraiser, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private information. 

Trump has enjoyed unusually vocal support from the tech industry this election cycle — a contrast to 2016, when billionaire Peter Thiel was one of his only visible supporters. (Thiel has said he plans to sit out this cycle.) In addition to dining with Sacks and Palihapitiya this week, Trump will  travel to Southern California, where he’s slated to attend another fundraiser on Saturday hosted by Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Anduril Industries Inc., a tech company that makes defense and weapons technology and is doing business with the US government. 

David Friedberg, an investor who co-hosts the popular All-In podcast with Sacks and Palihapitiya, said in an email that tech’s interest in politics isn’t new. “I think Silicon Valley has always had political engagement, as far back as 20+ years ago many of the senior leaders and investors I knew in Silicon Valley were active one way or another politically,” he wrote. “Maybe political activism gets more attention nowadays given the increasing influence Silicon Valley has over the world and a reshaping media landscape.”

Former US President Donald Trump Photographer: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg

While the industry tends to lean Democratic and San Francisco is a heavily Blue city, tech leaders’ political preferences are often diffuse. Top issues include taxes, tech antitrust and crypto regulation — as well as foreign policy and immigration rules. Many tech players have donated to both parties. For example, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of the prominent firm Andreessen Horowitz have given to a range of causes, and have disavowed political affiliations. Instead they have taken an anti-regulation stance. The firm has said it will support candidates who are pro-tech, regardless of other issues — espousing a “techno-optimist” philosophy laid out by Andreessen in a manifesto last year. 

Sacks, an investor and friend of Elon Musk, previously backed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis before throwing his support to Trump. He says he wants to put an end to Biden Administration policies such as supporting the war in Ukraine. “The world’s on fire,” he said in a recent interview, adding that when Trump was in power previously, “they had four years of relative peace in the world.” Palihapitiya previously supported Democratic candidates in earlier races.

Trump is widely expected to appear alongside them on the All-In podcast, though an exact date for the taping has not been set.

For much of this cycle, President Joe Biden has been ahead in fundraising, including among donors from technology-related industries. The president and allied political action committees raised $18.1 million from donors with ties to the electronics and communications industries through May 21, according to campaign finance data compiled by OpenSecrets. Trump and his allies have received just $1.4 million from that sector during that timeframe. 

While Trump’s event this week has attracted more attention, Biden has also been to Silicon Valley for fundraisers, including ones hosted by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures and former Yahoo executive Marissa Mayer. This week, Vice President Kamala Harris is also in the Bay Area, and is attending fundraising events.

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