Silicon Valley unites against Donald Trump

Trump's candidacy has finally compelled the politically-averse tech industry to jump into the fray of the presidential race.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

As many as 145 leaders in the tech industry signed on to an open letter published Thursday, slamming Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The letter is anything but surprising -- the inhabitants of Silicon Valley have this year regularly expressed their disdain for Trump's views. As the letter spells out, virtually all of Trump's positions -- his opposition to immigration and open borders, his penchant for censorship and his apparent ignorance of tech issues -- run squarely against the interests of the tech industry.

At the same time, the letter is something of a milestone for an industry that has largely been averse to drawing partisan lines in the sand.

"We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation," the letter says. "His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy -- and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth."

The letter makes no mention of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or any third party candidate. But just days ahead of the Republican National Convention, it cements the tech industry's firm opposition this election cycle to the GOP. Billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel has emerged as the exception that proves the rule and is even slated to speak at the Cleveland convention.

The California Bay Area is, of course, decidedly blue -- in 2012, 83 percent of donations from tech employees went to Obama -- but some of Silicon Valley's deepest pockets have supported the GOP. As The Hill points out, Oracle founder Larry Ellison donated $4 million this cycle to groups supporting Marco Rubio, while Thiel gave $2 million to support Carly Fiorina before backing Trump.

And unlike Hollywood, where political views are regularly expressed, Silicon Valley leaders often venture into politics with policy discussions that avoid strong expressions of partisan alliegance.

For instance, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched the pro-immigration group FWD.us and, not surprisingly, has supported President Obama's actions on immigration. However, he also held a fundraiser for Republican Chris Christie around the time FWD.us officially launched.

Meanwhile, on Election Day 2012, Google co-founder Sergey Brin expressed his distaste for partisanship with a blog post pleading, "to the victors -- whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit."

Some tech leaders are still futiley pining for more nonpartisanship, or at least bipartisanship: Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, wrote an article suggesting that Clinton choose Republican Mitt Romney as her running mate.

Yet any support for the GOP candidate this year has been met with a degree of hostility in Silicon Valley. Pando's editorial director Paul Carr lashed out at Thiel, a Pando investor, writing that "only an asshole would support Donald Trump." Intel CEO Brian Krzanich found himself in hot water last month after it was reported he was hosting a $25,000-a-head fundraiser featuring Trump. The fundraiser was canceled.

Even for an industry that often tries to cast itself as above politics, it appears that Trump's candidacy is too much to swallow.

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