With varying reasons, Silicon Valley moguls are backing Trump and adding to his campaign coffers

Sequoia Capital partner Shaun Maguire made headlines last week in the wake of Trump’s conviction in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money case.

Published: June 7, 2024 11:02pm

Former President Donald Trump managed to raise $12 million on Thursday night alone. While the figure pales in comparison to his post-conviction hauls that have reportedly reached $200 million, the sum is noteworthy for one key reason:

He raised it in San Francisco.

The overwhelmingly liberal city has been a bastion of Democratic politics for decades and is represented by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The fundraising haul did not reportedly come from the city’s average citizens, however, but from large-dollar donors with ties to Silicon Valley.

In 2024, burglary is up by 44% in 2024 in San Francisco’s more residential Taraval police district, The New York Post reported. Burglaries are also up by 19% in Ingleside and 6.2% in the Richmond neighborhood. San Francisco has not has a Republican mayor since 1964, when served as the 34th mayor of San Francisco starting in 1956. 

Situated in the Bay Area, the Valley is home to many tech and venture capital firms. In recent weeks, many of its heavyweights, albeit for varying reasons, have thrown their support behind the former president.

"In 2016, the number of people from Silicon Valley I knew who supported Trump was a sample of one, which was Peter [Thiel]," former Palantir adviser Jacob Helburg told Reuters. "Today I count them in the dozens, if not more than that. Over the course of the past six months, we've started to see the dam break.”

Thiel made history in 2016 as the first openly gay man to address the Republican National Convention.

David Sacks

The $12 million fundraiser on Thursday evening took place at the home of venture capitalist David Sacks, who co-hosted the event with fellow venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.

A Trump campaign official told Just the News that “[t]he event hosted by David Sacks and Chamath Paliphapitiya had over 100 attendees. Some of the most important investors and innovators from the tech industry sector were in attendance and they raised $12 million dollars.”

Sacks has been an outspoken critic of the Biden administration’s handling of foreign policy, most notably the Ukraine War, and his analysis and calls for negotiations with Moscow have attracted considerable attention online.

Sacks on Thursday outlined his reasons for choosing to support Trump, highlighting the economy, foreign affairs, border security, and “lawfare” targeting the former president.

“With Biden, our choices are limited to fighting the proxy war to the last Ukrainian, or fighting Russia ourselves,” Sacks wrote. “President Trump has said he wants the dying in Ukraine to stop, and that he will seek to end the war through a negotiated settlement. Ukraine will no longer be able to get the deal we talked them out of in April 2022, but we can still save Ukraine as an independent nation and avert world war.”

Sacks also pointed to myriad economic metrics and insisted “[w]e can’t afford another four years of Bidenomics.” He also accused Biden of enabling a “de facto open border policy” and insisted that the Biden administration had pursued “elective prosecutions against his political opponents.”

Shaun Maguire

Sequoia Capital partner Shaun Maguire made headlines last week in the wake of Trump’s conviction in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money case.

Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 payment his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels. Trump has vowed to appeal the conviction and maintains that the case is part of a broader political witch hunt designed to derail his 2024 bid for the White House.

“I just donated $300k to President Trump. The timing isn't a coincidence,” Maguire posted on X shortly after the verdict.

In a lengthy post explaining his decision, Maguire devoted a portion to what he deemed “lawfare,” asserting that “[t]his has been another radicalizing experience. I understand that normally when there's smoke there's fire, but in this case I think when there's smoke there's lawfare.”

He then loosely outlined concerns he had with Bragg’s case, as well as the prosecutions brought by special counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis; and the civil suits from E. Jean Carroll and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“Fairness is one of my guiding principles in life and simply, these cases haven't been fair for Trump,” Maguire insisted.

Notably, Maguire’s explanation of his support for Trump shared a key rationale with that of Sacks, namely Trump’s foreign policy.

“I believe Trump was one of the best foreign policy Presidents in decades, and during the most complex period in almost a century, as the East rises, which leads to a changing set of rules,” he insisted. Among his key issues with the Biden administration’s handling of the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

“To anyone that follows me on X you know that I'm a staunch Israel supporter and also Zionist. I believe that Israel is one of America's most important allies in the world,” he added. “Somehow the Biden administration has chosen to cuddle up to Iran while driving Saudi Arabia and Israel away. This is unforgivably disastrous policy in my opinion.”

Elon Musk

In late May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had met with Tesla founder Elon Musk about a potential advisory role in a prospective Trump administration. Musk has denied any such discussion.

Fueling the speculation, however, has been Musk’s prior political activity and policy decisions while leading the social media platform X. Musk, for example, participated in Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign launch in 2023, which occurred on the platform. 

After purchasing Twitter, Musk dramatically overhauled the company’s content moderation policies, reversing bans on prominent right-wing figures and rolling back censorious practices targeting COVID-19 cynicism and other positions. He further restored Trump’s own account, which the prior management had suspended in the wake of the Jan. 6 incident.

While Musk has not endorsed Trump outright, he has made no secret of his disagreements with the Biden administration, in particular on the southern border situation, and has publicly engaged with other figures backing Trump.

In response to Sacks’s post on Thursday, Musk himself replied with a succinct “thoughtful.” Like Sacks, moreover, Musk has attracted scrutiny over his positions on the Ukraine War, which have been out of step with the Biden administration. In late March, for instance, he called for a “negotiated settlement” to the conflict, warning that should it persist, Ukraine would lose more territory.

Musk has also appeared to confirm that X will soon host a town hall event with Trump, resharing an article announcing the event last week and saying “[t]his will be interesting.”

Reasoning: Direct interests

Among those three, foreign policy has emerged as a notable point of common criticism of the Biden administration. But other Silicon Valley heavyweights have identified policy positions more in line with their direct interests as motivating factors for backing Trump as well.

Tech executive and former Trump ambassador to Austria, Trevor Traina, moreover, pointed to the Biden administration’s veto of legislation limiting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to regulate cryptocurrency as a key issue.

"That might have been just the final domino," he told Reuters.

The Trump campaign has recently embraced cryptocurrency, announcing in late March that it would begin accepting donations in crypto. Trump has further taken aim at Democratic-led efforts to advance state-backed digital currencies.

"This addition to President Trump’s already groundbreaking digital fundraising operation marks the first time a major party Presidential nominee has embraced cryptocurrency for donations," the campaign said at the time. "As our President, Donald J. Trump has reduced regulations and championed innovation in financial technology, while Democrats, like Biden and his official surrogate Elizabeth Warren, continue to believe only government has the answers to how our nation leads the world.”

Trump himself attributed his appeal with tech leaders to his “high IQ.”

"These are brilliant guys — AI guys — these are the guys that are doing all the things you read about," he told Fox News. "These are just a brilliant group of people. And they can’t relate to Biden because he is a stupid person — and I have a high IQ." 

"They don’t like dealing with an IQ that’s like, you know, 1/3 of theirs, because it is a difficult thing when someone has an IQ of 180, it is difficult to deal with a man with an IQ of 70 — or maybe lower… Biden is a very low IQ individual,” he added.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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