Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump isn't known for his tech savviness, but Silicon Valley had special reason to cringe during the presidential debate Monday when Trump spoke on the topic of cyber security.
...Or the internet, or the web, or cybersex, or whatever he thought he was talking about during that part of the debate. The exact subject of Trump's comments wasn't entirely clear. He merely referred to "the cyber."
"As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said. We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we're not. I don't think anybody knows that it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia--I don't, maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?" the candidate said.
Cue startup accelerator 500 Startups' recently launched Nerdz 4 Hillary campaign. In the works for a few weeks now, you could be forgiven if you thought Trump's talk about "the cyber," which ended with a seemingly non sequitur comment that his 10-year-old son is "so good with these computers," might have lit a fire under the butts of techies to raise some serious dough for Clinton.
But what actually inspired the Nerdz effort, says 500 Startups CEO Dave McClure, was the recent narrowing of poll results between Trump and Clinton. Conventional wisdom holds that polls tend to tighten as an election draws near. Nonetheless, seeing Clinton's lead narrow had McClure concerned. "I think that was maybe the last piece of the story that got me off my ass," he tells Inc.
Save for outliers like venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, liberal-leaning Silicon Valley is pretty negative on Trump. "He's been really offensive to people [in Silicon Valley] in a lot of different ways," says McClure.
Trump's politics aside, "I think [people in tech are] not going to have a lot of respect for someone who can't describe the internet very well or cyber security very well," McClure adds.
The aim of Nerdz is to raise funding--the goal is $100,000, about half of which has already poured in from a list of high net-worth individuals--and stir grassroots political energy for Clinton.
The "nerdz" theme goes further than seeking donations from people who identify as nerds. This is a "Star Wars"-themed campaign, featuring Clinton depicted on the fundraiser website as Princess Leia. "500 Nerdz. One Mission," reads the landing page. "To elect Hillary Clinton and defeat the Dark Force (Donald Trump)."
There are no special events planned. McClure says the aim is just to raise money within the next couple of weeks and get people motivated to support Clinton as election day draws near.
Here's a list of folks who have already made contributions, per 500 Startups:
- Dave McClure, Founding Partner at 500 Startups
- Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup
- Minerva Tantoco, CTO of the City of New York & Senior Advisor at Future Perfect Ventures
- Harper Reed, PayPal
- Shelly Porges, Co-founder of Entrepreneurs for Hillary
- Leanne Pittsford, Founder of Lesbians Who Tech
- James Hong, Angel Investor
- Leslie Jump, Founder & CEO at Startup Angels
- Monique Woodard, Partner at 500 Startups
- Bulbul Gupta, Social Innovation Advisor