One of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in Silicon Valley is giving up his support for the president following last week’s riot on Capitol Hill, Recode has learned.
Doug Leone, a billionaire investor who gave Trump a lot of money and even served on a White House task force, is making his first public comments so far on his multi-year support for Trump. Leone, a long-time executive at elite venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, has tried to stay on the low side but has drawn fire for being one of the few big tech figures actively backing Trump.
After the horrific events of the past few weeks, President Trump has lost many of his supporters, including me, Leone said in a statement to Recode. The actions of the president and other speakers at the rally incited rioters. We need to find the best way to move forward as a country, support our newly elected president, and start working on the many difficult issues facing America.
Leones’ conviction is the latest sign that the tech industry is showing less tolerance for Trump after the attempt in recent weeks to avoid certifying the Electoral College vote. Some tech companies have shifted their political giving strategies, and other executives are discussing ways to ensure that Trump supporters or aides are not welcome in the warm embrace of Silicon Valleys.
Despite its liberal sensibilities, Silicon Valley has conservatives, but proud Trump supporters have always been few and far between. Leone stood out for this very reason.
Leone and his wife Patti have donated over $ 700,000 to support Trumps’ re-election campaign, making him one of the biggest contributors to pro-Trump causes in the Bay Area, review finds of the FEC files. They have donated everything from pro-Trump super PACs to the Republican National Committee.
A longtime supporter of the GOP candidates since George W. Bushs’ first presidential campaign, Leone has also recently made large donations to groups supporting Trump allies such as Senator Lindsey Graham and Republicans who have run for office. Senate this month in Georgia.
Leones’ support for the president has gone beyond the simple donor, he has also cultivated ties with the Trump administration. Leone was the only major Silicon Valley figure appointed to a White House task force this spring on the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery. And this summer, Leone reportedly told people he could use his influence with Trump to help TikTok, the Chinese app owned by a Sequoia portfolio company that has spent months amid a regulatory storm.
All of these links make Leones’ statement more meaningful.
Meanwhile, other Silicon Valley Trump supporters remain silent. Peter Thiel, perhaps outweighing the tech industry’s most notorious backer, has not said anything since the election about the results or recent behavior. A spokesperson for Thiel did not return a request for comment last week. Oracle founder Larry Ellison, one of the richest people in the world, organized a fundraiser for Trump earlier this year and got closer to him. An Ellison spokesperson did not return repeated requests for comment.
One of the prominent voices in Silicon Valley urging reconsideration in the business community is actually Leones’ close colleague Michael Moritz, who has donated millions of dollars to support Democrats this round. Moritz and Leone were the two co-executives of Sequoia for years, which likely resulted in heated conversations between them about politics during the Trump years.
Almost five years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to put forward to the business community Mr. Trumps, a past con artist, tyrant, racist, failed entrepreneur and boss, wrote Moritz in a column published Monday in the Financial Times, without mentioning Leone or any specific business leader by name. Many businessmen laughed at this portrayal of Mr. Trump preferring to support him because they liked his policies so much. Their arguments always reminded me of Prussian military leaders and German business tycoons who believed they could control the dark tendencies of a corporal who became a strong politician in the 1920s.
Trump now faces impeachment as some of his staunch supporters like Leone turn on him.
Full statement from Heres Leones to Recode:
I strongly condemn the attack on the United States Capitol and all acts of violence. Attacks on our democracy will not advance our nation, and those who stormed Capitol Hill should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. After the horrific events of the past few weeks, President Trump has lost many of his supporters, including me. The actions of the president and other speakers at the rally incited rioters. We need to find the best way to move forward as a country, support our newly elected president, and start working on the many difficult issues facing America.
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