Silicon Valley’s pro-Trump VCs and founders once donated millions to Trump. They’ve gone quiet after last week’s insurrection on Capitol Hill.

doug leone sequoia capital

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They donated millions of dollars, hosted fundraisers in their mansions, and advised the Trump transition team. Now, they’ve all gone quiet.

In the aftermath of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on June 6, Silicon Valley’s most conservative Republican backers are now nowhere to be found — and some VCs are upset about it. 

Take Sequoia’s Doug Leone, for example, a billionaire VC and managing partner of Sequoia, one of Silicon Valley’s top firms. As a growing segment of the nation soured on Trump during his term, Leone remained a staunch supporter.

He donated over $100,000 to Trump’s reelection efforts, according to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) data, and has deep ties with top administration officials. (Last year, he lobbied Jared Kushner to save a Sequoia portfolio company, TikTok, from an imminent US ban, and was the only Silicon Valley venture investor picked for a task force that advised Trump on how to reopen the American economy.)

Another donation that stands out among the many donations he made to Republicans in recent years: at least $2,700 in 2018 to Josh Hawley, the Missouri Senator who voted against certifying the election results after the riots and who has been accused by other lawmakers of helping to incite the mayhem. The donation, documented by the Center for Responsive Politics, has not been previously reported. 

Now, as other venture capitalists denounce last week’s Capitol Hill riots conducted in the president’s name, Leone is keeping quiet, alongside a handful of other, deep-pocketed investors and founders who championed Trump as a necessary corrective to Silicon Valley’s liberalism. 

The conservative billionaire didn’t respond when asked by Insider if he still supports the president or Hawley. The same for Peter Thiel, the billionaire Founders Fund partner who was once Trump’s most vocal supporter in Silicon Valley.

Palmer Luckey, the multimillionaire cofounder of drone startup Anduril who donated over $800,000 to Trump’s reelection efforts in 2020, according to the FEC, also didn’t respond to Insider when asked if he still supported the president. Neither did a representative for David Blumberg, the managing partner of Blumberg Capital who gave over $100,000 to Trump’s reelection campaign in the last two years, per the FEC. 

“Incomprehensible” silence

Like many other prominent conservative donors in tech, Leone, Luckey, and Blumberg didn’t air their politics loudly during election season, preferring to let their financial contributions do the talking instead. (Thiel actually sat out Trump’s reelection campaign, though he was such a visible supporter in 2016 that he spoke at the Republican Convention, and hasn’t yet publicly criticized the president.)

Their silence has come under renewed scrutiny, as Trump’s baseless challenge to the 2020 election results helped encourage a violent mob attack on the Capitol last week and prompted Democrats to reintroduce articles of impeachment.

“It’s incomprehensible that someone like Peter Thiel is now silent on his support for Trump,” one Los Angeles-based investor who didn’t want to be named given the sensitivity of the topic, told Insider. Peter Thiel is now …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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