Specter of Trump Loosens Tongues, if Not Purse Strings, in Silicon Valley
PALO ALTO, Calif. — After years of scorning the political process, Silicon Valley has leapt into the fray. The prospect of a President Donald J. Trump is pushing the tech community to move beyond its traditional role as donors and to embrace a new existence as agitators and activists.
加州帕洛阿尔托——在对政治方法嗤之以鼻多年之后，硅谷跳入了这类纷争。唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)成为美国总统的可能性，促使科技界超越作为捐赠者的传统角色，开始扮演鼓动者和活动人士的新身份。
A distinguished venture capital firm emblazoned on its corporate home page an earthy anti-Trump epithet. One prominent tech chieftain says the consequences of Mr. Trump’s election would “range between disastrous and terrible.” Another compares him to a dictator. And nearly 150 tech leaders signed an open letter decrying Mr. Trump and his campaign of “anger” and “bigotry.”
Not quite all the action is anti-Trump. Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal and Palantir who was the first outside investor in Facebook, spoke at the Republican convention in July. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Mr. Thiel is giving $1.25 million to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy even as other supporters flee. (He also recently gave $1 million to a “super PAC” that supports Senator Rob Portman, the Republican freshman running for re-election in Ohio.)
并非所有的行动都是反对特朗普的。今年7月，Paypal和Palantir两家公司的创始人之一、同时也是Facebook首位外部投资者的彼得·蒂尔(Peter Thiel)，在共和党全国大会上做了发言。《纽约时报》上周六曾报道，蒂尔要拿出125万美元资金支持特朗普的竞选，尽管其他支持者正在撤离。（最近，他还给一家“超级政治行动委员会”[super PAC]提供了100万美元资金，该委员会支持共和党新人罗布·波特曼[Rob Portman]参议员在俄亥俄州竞选连任。）
Getting involved in politics used to be seen as clashing with Silicon Valley’s value system: You transform the world by making problems obsolete, not solving them through Washington. Nor did entrepreneurs want to alienate whatever segment of customers did not agree with them politically.
Such reticence is no longer in style here.
“We’re a bunch of nerds not used to having a lot of limelight,” said Dave McClure, an investor who runs a tech incubator called 500 Startups. “But to quote Spider-Man, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’”
“我们是一群书呆子，不习惯受到太多关注，”投资人戴夫·麦克卢尔(Dave McClure)说。他管理着一家名为“创业500”(500 Startups)的科技孵化器。“但是拿蜘蛛侠的话来说，‘能力越大，责任越大’。”
Mr. McClure grew worried after the Republican and Democratic conventions as Mr. Trump began to catch up to Hillary Clinton in the polls. He wanted Silicon Valley to do more, and so late last month he announced Nerdz4Hillary, an informal fund-raising effort.
An initial group of donors pledged $50,000; the goal was to ask the “nerdz” for small donations to match that sum. They have not come through yet. “We’re kind of optimistic we’ll get the other $50,000 in a few weeks,” Mr. McClure said.
That relatively slow pace reflects Silicon Valley’s shifting position: Even as it becomes increasingly free with its opinions, it has been less free with its checkbook. The most recent data, from late August, shows Mrs. Clinton taking in $7.7 million from the tech community, according to Crowdpac, a start-up that tracks donations. By that point in 2012, Crowdpac says, President Obama had raised $21 million from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of the business networking site LinkedIn, offers a snapshot of Silicon Valley’s evolving approach to politics.
Mr. Hoffman was a top Obama donor, giving $1 million to the Priorities USA political action committee, something several of his peers did as well. Last month, Mr. Hoffman garnered worldwide publicity for saying he would donate up to $5 million to veterans’ groups if Mr. Trump released his taxes, a remote possibility that never came to pass. He has castigated Mr. Trump in interviews, saying he was speaking for those who were afraid.
Mr. Hoffman’s outright donations, however, have been smaller this election cycle. In May, he gave $400,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund. Asked if there was more recent giving that had not shown up in federal election records, Mr. Hoffman cryptically responded in an email, “Looking at some PACs, etc.” He declined several opportunities to elaborate.
不过，霍夫曼的直接捐赠在这个选举周期一直比较少。今年5月，他给希拉里胜利基金会(Hillary Victory Fund)捐了40万美元。在被问到最近是否有更多的捐赠没有被联邦选举委员会记录时，霍夫曼在一封邮件中措辞隐晦地回应道，“正在看一些PAC之类的。”他多次拒绝就此做出详细说明。
Even as Priorities USA has raised $133 million this election cycle, far exceeding its total in 2012, its tech contributions have dwindled. The only familiar tech name this time around is John Doerr of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who gave $500,000.
尽管“优先美国”在这个竞选周期内募集了1.33亿美元，远远超过2012年的总额，但它获得来自科技界的资金有所减少。这次大选的捐赠者中，唯一熟悉的科技界名字是风险投资公司凯鹏华盈(Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers)的约翰·多尔(John Doerr)，他捐赠了50万美元。
The AOL co-founder Steve Case said his September endorsement of Mrs. Clinton, via an op-ed in The Washington Post, was the first time he ever publicly declared for a candidate. “I always focused on policy and avoided politics,” he said. “But if Trump were elected president, I would be disappointed in myself for not acting.”
今年9月，美国在线(AOL)联合创始人史蒂夫·凯斯(Steve Case)通过发表于《华盛顿邮报》(The Washington Post)的一篇专栏文章，宣布了他对克林顿的支持。他说这是他第一次公开宣布对一位候选人表示支持。“我一直关注政策，而避免介入政治，”他说。“但如果特朗普当选总统，我将会为自己当初没有采取行动而感到失望。”
He was less certain about donating money to Mrs. Clinton, saying it was “probable” but “not certain.”
Mason Harrison, Crowdpac’s head of communications, explained the gap. “Donors give to support candidates they love, not to defeat candidates they fear,” he said.
A few billionaires are taking the opposite approach, acting instead of talking. Dustin Moskovitz, a founder of Facebook, said he was giving $20 million to various Democratic election efforts — the first time he and his wife, Cari Tuna, have endorsed a candidate. He declined to be interviewed.
也有几位亿万富翁采取了相反的策略，用行动说话，而不发声。Facebook联合创始人达斯廷·莫斯科维茨(Dustin Moskovitz)表示，他在给民主党的各种竞选活动捐赠2000万美元，这是他和妻子卡里·图纳(Cari Tuna)首次给一位候选人背书。他拒绝了时报的采访请求。
Part of the problem for Mrs. Clinton is that, however preferable she may be to Mr. Trump in the tech community, she pales in comparison to President Obama. After some initial misgivings, Silicon Valley found its champion in him. There has been a revolving door between tech and the Obama administration, just as previous Democratic administrations had a revolving door with Wall Street. In June, President Obama seemed to suggest that he might become a venture capitalist after his term ends.
Mrs. Clinton is not as enthusiastic toward Silicon Valley and its disruptive ways. In a speech in the summer of 2015, she noted that start-ups in the “on-demand or so-called gig economy” — Uber, Airbnb and their ilk — were “unleashing innovation” but also “raising hard questions about workplace protection and what a good job will look like in the future.”
The Clinton campaign declined to comment. The Trump campaign did not respond to a query.
But perhaps being vocal is a temporary condition after all. The venture firm CRV was in the spotlight at the end of August with its blunt anti-Trump message, which included the earthy epithet. A few weeks later, it cleaned up its website. The partners went from employing a publicist to seek out attention to declining interviews.
“We reached everyone we wanted to reach, and hopefully influenced opinions,” said Saar Gur, a CRV venture capitalist. “Then the buzz died down and we went back to our day jobs, which are super busy.”