Tech CEOs are much more interested in a potential presidential bid by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg than throwing their support behind Hillary Clinton, according to one expert who tracks the industry.
Greg Ferenstein’s new e-book, “The Age of Optimists: A Quantitative Glimpse of How Silicon Valley Will Transform Power and Everyday Life, ” is credited by the Brookings Institution as offering the first systematic study of the Silicon Valley elite’s rise to power as a result of a survey of 129 tech firm founders.
“In any given quarter, Google is one of the largest lobbyists in the country,” Ferenstein said at an event on Tuesday. “If one opposes what Silicon Valley is for, that’s political suicide.”
Tech CEOs are huge fans of the government not as a regulator, but as an investor in citizens in their health and civic life, he said.
“While people in Silicon Valley are avidly pro-market, they are not individualists, but extreme collectivists,” said Ferenstein.
Despite seeing liberal leanings, Ferenstein said the tech leaders would be strong proponents for Bloomberg, who has a background of starting a business information company with his unique terminal and building it to an empire, much like the Silicon Valley elite. It has been reported that Bloomberg has instructed aides to draw up a plan for an independent run for president.
Clinton’s “regulatory hawkish framework” and her recent opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal has bred distrust.
“In private meetings…billionaires speak very, very ill of her,” Ferenstein said. “They gave a lot of money to Obama [in 2008] because they didn’t know what she was going to do in office.”
Matt Gardner, founder of the California Technology Council, said in a phone interview that Silicon Valley dwellers also want a candidate who advocates for cybersecurity.
“Candidates that suggest an intrusive and unconstitutional way to sift through data without warrants or permission is also a problem,” Gardner said. “Irrespective of party, people want someone who embraces privacy.”
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, gave $3 million to a Super PAC supporting Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Donations from people including Tom Stephenson, former partner at Sequoia Ventures, and Helen Schwab, Charles Schwab’s wife landed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in second place for tech firm campaign spending.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comes in third place with $727,000 from tech companies, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has rallied $499,000 according to Crowdpac.
Rubio supports high-skilled immigration, free trade and transparency for what college students earn after graduation, which got his “foot in the door”, but he doesn’t have Silicon Valley’s blessing, Ferenstein said.
“[Rubio] scored one check from the richest man in California. Is that reflective of where the tech community stands? I would say no,” added Garrett Johnson, the co-founder of conservative Lincoln Labs think tank.