Gavin Newsom Election Memorial Divides Silicon Valley Election

Silicon Valley is a famous place leaning to the left. It is known that technologists spend their resources promoting gender equality or elimination homeless, sometimes even proposing higher taxes for the richest—that is, themselves. Allowance givers come the longest in the form of support for California governor Gavin Newsom, who is now facing a reminder in September special selection. Not surprisingly, Newsom received donations from an elite circle of tech luminaries, including Marissa Mayer and Eric Schmidt. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, donated $ 3 million to the Stop the Republican Recall committee of Governor Newsom. The California Democratic Party, by comparison, has so far contributed $ 2.15 million.

While donations from the tech and media industries have strongly opposed the memory effort— $ 5.6 million to $ 233,000, according to Causes of Cal—A small but vocal group of technocrats are seeking to oust Newsom and make a different appearance in California. Some, like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, are prominent Republicans, but others support more progressive politics and even gave in to Newsom’s 2018 campaign. Now they view his politics as the enemy of a thriving tech sector.

Capitalist seeker and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya recently described California as an “unfriendly culture for innovation,” due to high taxes and many heavy hands on the government in business regulation. Palihapitiya, who previously supported Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, sent $ 100,000 to Rescue California, one of the leading groups behind the recovery. (He also created a website,, detailing his political agenda, but clarified that he was not actually running to replace Newsom. “Let’s really be honest,” he said in his podcast, “No. I’m Ready to do any of that. ”) Venture capitalist David Sacks, who backed Newsom in its 2018 bid, also donated money to Rescue California. Twitter, he pointed to “Newsom’s total failed-on lockdowns, schools, crime, homelessness, fire,” which led to his reversal stance. (Neither Palihapitiya nor Sacks responded to emails from WIRED.)

While Palihapitiya and Sacks may seem like outliers of Burning Man-esque behavior in Silicon Valley, their views are somewhat representative of a broader group. In 2017, Stanford researchers studied the political behaviors of tech elites and they were found to be “completely different from any other group.” Neil Malhotra, who led the research, says wealthy entrepreneurs have the potential to be progressive and cosmopolitan, promoting issues like gay marriage, gun control, and free trade. They also seek to support economic distribution and favor social services. Where techies show is their strong difference in government regulation, especially on the part of work. While they haven’t left in many ways, Malhotra said technocrats are not liberal, but rather “liberal-tarian.”

For decades, tech CEOs have been strongly Republican— “the fiscal conservative, liberal distinction is no more,” Margaret O’Mara, a political historian and author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, wrote an email. But since the Clinton era, most technologists have allied themselves with the Democrats, who play well in the industry. A small group remained more strongly libertarian.

“The Valley has always been politically impatient as usual, but its leaders – and the donor class – often fall into two camps,” O’Mara said. In the first camp, those who believe “government is needed and only needs improvement through Silicon Valley-style innovation” are likely to line up with Democrats. In the camp of the two, those who want the government not to go along with their business are more in line with Republicans. In the past, camps were sometimes vague, or behaved by their own rules. Peter Thiel, one of the Valley’s most famous libertarians, donated $ 57,400 in Newsom’s 2019 campaign. (The founder of PayPal has since collapsed in Miami.)

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