The Tech Companies Feting and Financing Trump

Technology Policy Brief #112 | By: Mindy Spatt | June 17, 2024
Featured Photo by Indy Silva for US Renew Democracy News, 2024

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Apparently no one can stay mad at Donald Trump for long, especially if they’re a billionaire.  Not Blackstone Equity Group CEO Steve Schwarzman,  who has dropped his calls for new republican leadership and is backing Trump.  Not high profile hedge fund manager Nicolas Pelz, who publicly regretted voting for Trump after January 6 but now is back on board.  Not David Sacks, the venture capitalist who recently hosted Trump for a fundraiser at his San Francisco mansion despite having previously said Trump should be disqualified from holding office. And not Jacob Helberg, who had a key role in Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in 2020 and recently threw $1 million Trump’s way.

Analysis

Sack’s gathering – where top tickets were $500,000 per couple – was reportedly sold out and raised $12 million for the former president, who has been raking in cash all over the country since he was convicted of 34 felonies.  Executives from tech companies including Coinbase and the crypto investor twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were in attendance and were apparently wooed by Trump’s vows to go after Senator Elizabeth Warren, who advocates for enhanced consumer protections for crypto buyers.  Sacks and his cohost, Chamath Palihapitiya, both have huge investments in bitcoin.

Also on hand for the party was Stuart Alderoty, the Chief Legal Officer of bitcoin company Ripple.  While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking $2 billion in fines and penalties against Ripple, industry groups are pushing a bill in Congress, the Financial Innovation And Technology for the 21st Century Act, that would drastically cut away at the SEC’s powers.

It’s no surprise the notoriously anti-regulation tech sector is aligned with Trump, who is bullishly against any form of regulation or consumer protection.  Most technology companies opposed Biden’s appointment of Lina Kahn as Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, knowing she would aggressively pursue monopoly charges against Amazon and huge companies.

Over at the Labor Department Biden’s pick for Secretary, Julie Su, still hasn’t been confirmed and faces vociferous opposition from Uber, Lyft and other companies that use gig workers and fear Su would institute expanded rights for them.

Shaun Maguire, a partner at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which has interests in Nividia, Reddit, Instacart, Google Door Dash Apple, previously voted democratic but announced he would back Trump just hours after Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Without acknowledging the economic synergies between his companies and Trump’s policies, Maguire posted on X shortly after Trumps’ conviction “I just donated $300k to President Trump,” adding,  “The timing isn’t a coincidence.”

Alderoy’s Ripple is one of the tech companies behind Fairshake, a super PAC which is set to spend close to $100 million to influence elections in November.  In a recent report on a major crypto conference Rueters described  Ripple President Monica Long as “optimistic that a lobbying push by the crypto industry will yield results in this year’s U.S. elections.”

Jacob Helberg, the former Buttigieg supporter, is a senior advisor at Palantir, an artificial intelligence firm that does extensive government contracting work, including with the U.S. Department of Defense.  He may not be a billionaire on his own, but he is married to one, venture capitalist Keith Rabios.  Helberg called the San Francisco event “proof that President Trump’s campaign is creating a generational realignment among technology founders, Millennials, gays & Jewish Americans that transcends party lines and makes him more competitive in even the most traditionally blue communities.”

Many of us here in San Francisco would emphatically disagree with Helberg.  Some made their feelings known to Trump and his friends with 33 foot tall chicken balloon in Trump’s likeness, dressed in a striped prison suit, that cruised the bay in front of Alcatraz Island and was likely visible from the pricey party.


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