In response to Peter Thiel's pledge to donate $1.25 million to Donald Trump's presidential bid (reported by the New York Times on Saturday), some in the Silicon Valley-centered tech community are going public with a call to reject any company willing to do business with the PayPal co-founder.
In addition to co-founding PayPal and data analysis software firm Palantir, Thiel sits on the board at Facebook and is a part-time partner and investor in startup seed fund Y Combinator.
Thiel's substantial donation to Trump doesn't come as a surprise--he did have a prime-time speaking slot at this summer's Republican National Convention--but the billionaire has been largely silent about his chosen candidate's many controversial statements of the past few months, which had caused some to wonder if he had abandoned his support for the Republican nominee. After speaking at the RNC, Thiel's spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal in August that the billionaire did not plan on donating money or campaigning for Trump's bid. But in September he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post saying Trump could be the one to fix ineffective government.
Following Sunday's Times article about Thiel's reported pledge, some founders and investors took to Twitter to express their outrage. Playing off the first line of the Times article, which describes Thiel's reputation as "the most contrarian soul in Silicon Valley," Hunter Walk, a partner at VC fund Homebrew and vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton, had a different idea for what Thiel should be called.
I'm looking for a word.... & it's not "contrarian" https://t.co/v6PpRAwEQH-- Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) October 16, 2016
Twitter founding team member and founder and CEO of Kapor Capital-funded recruiting software company Atipica Laura Gómez's passionate response was retweeted over a hundred times.
Fuck you, Peter Thiel. I swear on my mother's grave I'll never take money from you or your fund. https://t.co/3S5qXdIkLx-- laura i. gómez (@laura) October 16, 2016
She quickly followed up with some context from her mom, who's still very much alive, but stopped far short of an apology.
Context. Mama is mad I swore on her grave, while alive. (I agree with her) Not happy with the "F" word (true). Agreed with everything else. https://t.co/cAlEUTerb4-- laura i. gómez (@laura) October 16, 2016
And John Lilly of investment firm Greylock Partners compared Thiel's donation to that of another prominent Facebook figure. The social network's co-founder Dustin Moskovitz pledged to donate $20 million to help ensure a Clinton victory because, as he put it, Trump's "proposals are so implausible that the nation is forced to worry that his interest in the presidency might not even extend beyond winning a contest and promoting his personal brand."
Code for America co-founder Catherine Bracy fired off a series of tweets saying Silicon Valley should disown Thiel, urging men and women of all races not accept jobs at Facebook until he's off the board, and saying anyone who defends him is sending a powerful message about their values.
Would like to see no women or people of color -- heck, maybe white men too -- accept jobs at Facebook until Thiel is gone.-- Catherine Bracy (@cbracy) October 16, 2016
Tech leaders: when you make excuses for Peter Thiel for supporting Trump, we hear you. Women and ppl of color are taking notes.-- Catherine Bracy (@cbracy) October 16, 2016
A question posed on Y Combinator's discussion board Hacker News called for a statement from the fund's co-founder Paul Graham and president Sam Altman (both of whom have been vocal Trump critics) regarding future dealings with Thiel. In response to a Twitter question aimed at Graham from David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of open-source framework for programmers Ruby on Rails and project management software Basecamp, Altman provided a preliminary look into the fund's position.
Thiel, whose Twitter feed consists of one post from 2014, had not responded on the social network or made any other public statements at the time this article was published.