The morning after the U.S. presidential election, it did not take long for the American entrepreneurs and investors at the Web Summit in Lisbon to start sharing their thoughts and feelings about President-elect Donald Trump.
During a panel that was supposed to be about how ego is a big reason startup founders fail, Dave McClure, founder of global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator 500 Startups, shared his views of the election on Tuesday, which resulted in Trump's winning the election although he lost the popular vote.
"This whole f*ing election was a goddamn travesty," said McClure. "We should not sit up here and act like nothing happened; we were robbed, we were raped, the election was stolen from us."
Without skipping a beat, the crowd of thousands of people started clapping and applauding in agreement with McClure.
Laurie Segall, a journalist from CNN Money who was moderating the panel between McClure, Justin Kan of Y Combinator, and Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital, interjected, trying to smooth things over, but McClure was visibly upset.
"If you're not pissed right now, if you're not f*ing pissed right now, what is f*ing wrong with you!? What is f*ing wrong with you if you're not pissed right now?" McClure asked rhetorically.
The crowd went wild again.
"I'm sad, I'm ashamed, I'm angry," said McClure.
Segall tried to bring the conversation back to tech: "You're pissed off, but let's bring it back to technology--what role does the tech industry have to increase civil engagement?"
McClure then explained that he believes social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which played a big role in creating echo chambers of news for both Democrats and Republicans, were used expertly by Trump, the GOP, and conspiracy theorists to disseminate lies about hot-button topics like immigration, abortion, and Hillary Clinton's private email server.
"The tech industry has a role in that we provide communication platforms for the rest of the f*king country. We are allowing shit to happen. Just like cable news networks and talk radio, [the platforms] are becoming propaganda mediums, and if people aren't aware of the things they are being told, a story of fear, if they are not understanding that people are trying to use them to get into f*ing office, yes, a**holes like Trump are going to take office," said McClure.
McClure then stood up and pumped his arms as he said: "It's our duty and our responsibility as entrepreneurs and citizens of the world to make sure sh*t like this does not happen. This sh*t will not stand! And you have to fight for your rights! Stand up, stand up right now, stand the f**k up and make a goddamn difference!"
The crowd in the MEO Arena in Lisbon gave McClure a standing ovation.
Later on in the talk, Kan, who started and sold live video game platform Twitch and is now an investor at Y Combinator, said Trump getting elected should be "a wake-up call" for entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley, and the greater business community to start thinking about their "civic responsibility" when their technology disrupts industries. Kan said that as companies like Uber and tech like automation result in industry-wide job displacement, entrepreneurs need to start thinking through the consequences of fast-moving innovation.
"[Trump's getting elected is] a wake-up call for the civic responsibility that technology companies have as information platforms," said Kan. "What are people [who lose their jobs to technology] going to do? Are they going to become the supporters of the next Donald Trump? [We need to start] considering the economic consequences of what happens outside of Silicon Valley and the broader economy."
Eileen Burbidge, an American who runs a venture capital firm in the U.K., said that after "Brexit," which refers to when U.K. citizens voted to leave the European Union last June, a study found that 51 percent of people believe innovation is happening too quickly. Burbidge said that the majority of the tech community think innovation is undeniably a good thing, but many people outside of the industry, such as factory workers and blue collar communities, do not view technology advancement as a benefit to their lives.
"People who are disenfranchised would say, 'I don't give a s**t about your autonomous vehicles, and I don't need a drone to drop off a book. I care about where my kids will work, how we will get health care,' and it's important for us to figure out our civic duty and how we deliver civic duties to citizens," said Burbidge.