Despite promoting an image of innovative iconoclasm, outside the spotlight a cadre of powerful tech figures are planting themselves in Trump’s corner
When a group of 97 technology companies filed a legal submission against Donald Trump’s travel ban for citizens of seven Muslim-majority companies, the immediate question for many was not who had signed, but who had not. Absence from the brief became a source of embarrassment, and many new tech firms – including Adobe, Tesla, Zenefits, Postmates and Fitbit – quickly jumped on board.
As much as Silicon Valley likes to promote an image of innovative iconoclasm, companies have a herd mentality when it comes to political or social issues. Once one company goes out on a limb, the rest rush to follow. With near-unanimous opposition to Trump’s executive order, tech burnished its image as a bastion of progressive values – a reputation that had taken a major hit when top executivestravelled to Trump Tower in December to make nice with the then president-elect.
A certain amount of self-congratulation for the industry’s enlightened liberalism has since been widely on display, from Airbnb’s Super Bowl ad to the 10th annual Crunchies, which took place on Monday night. The industry award show – tech’s version of the White House correspondent’s dinner – saw numerous impassioned speeches about Trump and the responsibility of tech companies to change the world for the better.
But the tech industry has long had a substantial rightwing streak. And outside of the spotlight, a cadre of powerful and well-connected industry figures with ties to Peter Thiel and some of tech’s most prominent companies are embedding themselves in the Trump administration.