Many people in Silicon Valley are liberal, but there are also some right-wing billionaires. Their numbers aren't huge, but their large donations to candidates' super PACs give them an outsize impact. Some of them supported Donald Trump in the past, but many are deserting him now because he failed to deliver on what they wanted: less government regulation of business.
One of the more outspoken ones is immigrant-hating immigrant Peter Thiel. He gave $1.25 million to Trump's PAC in 2016 and that bought him a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. He also bankrolled Blake Masters' Senate race in 2022 in Arizona and some other Trumpy candidates. Trump called him in April begging for money, but Thiel declined. He said he was probably going to sit out 2024. Part of the problem here is that Thiel is gay and the GOP is taking increasingly hostile stances toward gay people. He and his gay friends don't like that much.
Thiel is not alone. Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy gave $500,000 to Trump and hosted a $100,000-a-head fundraiser at his home. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison gave Trump lots of money and the use of his Southern California mansion for fundraising. Venture capitalist Doug Leone donated $200,000 to Trump. Right-wing venture capitalist David Sacks was also a Trump fan. All of them and others are disappointed with Trump now and have dumped him. Some of them have found shiny new candidates to support, some have not. Ellison is (well, was; see above) supporting Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Leone gave $2 million to Ron DeSantis' super PAC. McNealy gave $6,600 to his one-time Stanford classmate Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) but is otherwise lying low. Sacks started to support DeSantis, but has since soured on him and moved on to Vivek Ramaswamy and Robert Kennedy Jr.
One political adviser to major Silicon Valley donors said: "There's such a massive disconnect right now between caucus-goers and primary voters and the people who write the big super PAC checks. We don't care about [transgender] kids going to bathrooms. We care about dismantling the regulatory state." Were the FTC, the FDA, and other agencies smaller after Trump's term? Nope. The billionaires wasted their money. None of the current Republican presidential candidates talk much about dismantling the regulatory state. This puts many of the big Republican tech donors adrift.
By next summer, when it is clear that the real choice is between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and all fantasies of other candidates are lying in the dust, the tech billionaires will have to choose among Biden, Trump, or keeping their wallets closed. Most of them hate the Democrats, but they mostly like continuity and predictability. Biden offers that. Trump doesn't. It is going to be a tough call for many of them, but they may mostly decide to sit this one out or perhaps focus on financing selected Republican Senate candidates. Even billionaires can't always have what they want. (V)