In the grand tradition of the tech elite announcing things on Medium, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz — briefly portrayed in The Social Network by actor Joseph Mazzallo — penned a post titled “Compelled to Act” to let the world know he will donate $US20 ($26) million to help defeat Donald Trump.
Moskovitz emphasised that while he and his wife have always been committed “to figuring out how to do the most good [they] can with the resources [they]’ve been given,” they haven’t donated to political campaigns in the past because they are “independent thinkers who respect candidates and positions from both sides of the aisle.” This election cycle, however, is different because, according to Moskovitz, it calls into question who we want to be as a society. The tech billionaire muses:
Will we be driven by fear, towards tribalism, emphasising the things that divide us? Will we focus on how to advantage those most similar to us while building barriers to separate us from the rest of the world? Or, alternatively, will we continue in the direction of increased tolerance, diversity and interdependence in the name of mutual prosperity?
Linking to a number of articles from Vox and Slate, the Wikipedia page for Malthusianism, and some statistics about global inequality, Moskovitz explains “for the first time, we are endorsing a candidate and donating.” Specifically he’s donating $US5 ($7) million to the the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund and $US5 ($7) million to For Our Future PAC. The remaining $US10 ($13) million will be split amongst Hillary Victory Fund, the DSCC, the DCCC, MoveOn.org Political Action, Colour Of Change PAC and “several nonpartisan voter registration and GOTV efforts.”
This election has Silicon Valley leaders piping up about their political beliefs more than ever before. In July, a huge group of tech leaders including major players like Steve Wozniak, David Karp, Ev Williams, Chris Sacca, and Moskovitz himself, signed an open letter on Medium denouncing Trump’s “divisive candidacy … [and] poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works.” A Trump presidency, the tech elite concluded, “would be a disaster for innovation.”
Moskovitz left Facebook in 2008 to form his own software company, Asana. In 2011, Forbes narrowly named him the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, due to the fact that he’s eight days younger than his old friend Mark Zuckerberg.
But while Zuck really, really loves walls, Moskovitz points to the wall Trump wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico as proof that if Trump is elected, “the country will fall backward, and become more isolated from the global community.”
His endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Moskovitz hopes, will “serve as a signal to the Republican Party that by running this kind of campaign — one built on fear and hostility — and supporting this kind of candidate they compel people to act in response.” Moskovitz is compelled. He’s acting in response.
While many in Silicon Valley are, at the very least, too embarrassed to donate to the Trump campaign, Peter Thiel, who owns 10.2 per cent of Facebook, has expressed his ardent support for the candidate.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Thiel, which asserts that since Trump’s Republican competitors vastly outspent him in the primaries, he won because he said “things that made sense to voters.”
“Success,” Thiel surmises, “cannot be reduced to the overall size of the budget.” Moskovitz, on the other hand, effectively counters that idea with his $US20 ($26) million investment against Trump.
In August, it was reported that Clinton has received $US30 ($39) million from the tech sector. Comparatively Trump’s received about 1 per cent of that amount, a measly $US336,000 ($439,429). Thiel’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that he has “has no plans to donate to or raise money for Mr. Trump.”
We’ll have to wait until November to see who wins the election, but if we’ve learned anything from Thiel, it’s that you can successfully use large sums of money to amplify the power of your ideological beliefs.