Silicon Valley’s self-proclaimed dominance over the tech world took a thunderous hit on Election Night 2016.
Its almost unanimous support of Hillary Clinton, and masterminding of the digital, high-tech backbone of her campaign, was ransacked by Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-globalization and pro-working families messaging.
Old fashioned-style rallies and Twitter barrages outmaneuvered the elite upperclassmen of Silicon Valley’s deep pockets and collective brainpower… another resounding example of how the valley’s ego and legacy stand stronger than its track record of innovation and success.
Clinton’s Silicon Valley connections go back years. But the extent to which billionaire tech hands were all over the campaign did not become fully apparent until WikiLeaks emails revealed Google head Eric Schmidt was an architect of her campaign strategy. He advised on where her campaign headquarters should be based, on speeches she gave and how to maximize technology to build voter support.
Final accounting is not in yet, but hundreds of millions of dollars poured from Silicon Valley executives and their subordinates into Clinton and Democratic campaign coffers. These contributions included, according to CNBC: $20 million from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife; $200,000 from Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg; and $600,000 from John Doerr, of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, to name just a few.
Only Paypal head Peter Thiel, who gave $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign, stood by the message and relevance of the “Trumpism” movement, even under threat from other Silicon Valley moguls that they might cut ties.
Speaking to a packed room October 31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Thiel made the case for how Trump’s message, if not its literal meaning, was resonating. And he blamed Silicon Valley’s isolation and legacy thinking for not getting it.
“The story people in Silicon Valley always want to tell is the one in which their specific success as individuals and as companies gets conflated with a story of general success and general progress in the United States,” he said. “I think the truth has been one of more specific success, but more general failure.” – Derek Osenenko