Silicon Valley Hasn’t Embraced Trump. But It’s Wavering on Biden

The June fundraiser set off alarm bells suggesting that a new political movement needed to be accounted for, but little in the records of its organizers suggests deep fealty to MAGA doctrine. Palihapitiya has supported Democrats in the past and is currently CEO of Hustle, a peer-to-peer texting platform for progressives. Sacks has spent most of the 2024 election raising money for nearly every candidate running besides Biden or Trump. The Purple Good Government PAC, which is predominantly funded by Sacks, has donated money to congressional candidates across the political spectrum, and last year Sacks made donations in support of Ron DeSantis, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Dean Phillips, among other candidates. Sacks has also previously said that Trump should be disqualified from holding office as a result of his behavior on January 6, years before his recent endorsement.

Other influential Silicon Valley figures and donors with well-known right-wing affinities like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk have, so far, decidedly stayed out of the race. (Thiel announced last fall that he would not be funding any candidacies this cycle; Musk has suggested that he could endorse a candidate later on in the cycle and that he was “leaning away” from Biden.)

A WIRED analysis of campaign contributions, meanwhile, suggests that the venture industry is, if anything, more Democratic-leaning this cycle than it has been in the past. The top 20 firms that have, along with their employees, donated the most money have given about two dollars to Democrats to every one they’ve given Republicans—higher than the average over the past 10 cycles.

The one segment of the tech industry that has displayed a plurality of support for Republicans, if not Trump, has been the crypto industry. Key crypto leaders have long criticized the Biden administration over its plans to regulate the industry. While the major cryptocurrency PAC, Stand With Crypto, has declined to endorse a presidential candidate, its website says Trump and Kennedy are far better for the industry than Biden.

“Bitcoin lives at the intersection of finance and energy. [Trump] sees the value in that. He wants this new industry to grow and thrive here,” says Brian Morgentstern, head of public policy at Riot Platforms, a bitcoin infrastructure company and former Trump administration Treasury Department official. “And the other side of this has been the Biden administration’s approach to the industry, which seems to be to regulate first and ask questions later.”

While the crypto industry’s roots lie in Silicon Valley, it is just a small part of the greater tech ecosystem.

“We are conflating the Silicon Valley crew with people who are, you know, like the crypto bro crew with the people who are Fortune 500 CEOs,” Lucy Caldwell, founder of Mockingbird Lab, says. “It’s all getting jumbled, and any one of them wants to tell you that they speak for this sea change in favor of MAGA, regardless of whether they do or don’t.”

“The crypto industry is all about the economics on this stuff,” Hoffman says. “We’ll sort out if it’s Biden, but we can buy influence with Trump. So I think there’s a big move from the crypto side to being pro-Trump.”

Biden’s recent debate performance has worked to spook a group of Silicon Valley megadonors, including Laurene Powell Jobs and Ron Conway. According to The New York Times, one Silicon Valley donor called off a future fundraiser for Biden because of the debate. But instead of considering moving their support to Trump, they’ve discussed how to intervene in Biden’s nomination.

“I have seen some emails from people in Silicon Valley who said, ‘I’m not going to donate more until I have more confidence,’” Hoffman told WIRED. “Part of the reason why you hear such a loud, like, ‘Oh Biden should release his delegates and kind of open up the convention’ is because people are so frenetic about the dangers of Trump winning.”

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