Led by billionaire Elon Musk, Silicon Valley inches to the right in big boost for Donald Trump | Tech News

Led by billionaire Elon Musk, Silicon Valley inches to the right in big boost for Donald Trump

Since his tumultuous takeover of Twitter, Elon Musk has made an unabashed turn to the right politically, defying the orthodoxy that Silicon Valley is a citadel of well-heeled liberals beholden to Democrats.

| Updated on: Mar 10 2024, 09:42 IST
5 Tech Titans who reacted to Twitter-killer Threads - Jack Dorsey to Elon Musk, check it out
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1/7 On their part, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, posted this note on the Threads app, “Here we go. We have lots of work to do, but we’re looking to build an open, civil place for people to have conversations.” (REUTERS)
Elon Musk
2/7 At the same time, Meta Platforms CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said, "Our vision is to take the best parts of Instagram and create a new experience for text, ideas, and discussing what's on your mind.” (AP)
Elon Musk
3/7 Elon Musk - While Musk did not directly talk about the Threads app, the Twitter chief took a dig at Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comment about how Twitter runs, saying, “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.” Musk also responded to a meme with a laughing emoji on Twitter which showed a keyboard with copy-and-paste buttons, implying that Threads was just a copycat of Twitter. (REUTERS)
Elon Musk
4/7 Jack Dorsey - The former Twitter CEO and current co-founder of Bluesky Social mocked the similar interface of several Twitter alternatives in a tweet. He wrote, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 7 Twitter clones.” (REUTERS)
Elon Musk
5/7 Bill Gates - Announcing his arrival on the new microblogging platform, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote on Threads, “I’m excited to jump into @threadsapp,” while also sharing a GIF of him jumping over a chair. (REUTERS)
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6/7 Carl Pei - Nothing co-founder and CEO Carl Pei has also joined Threads. In his first post, he wrote, “I don’t know if Threads is going to make it or not, but at least it has closed the door for Bluesky.” (Bloomberg)
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7/7 M.G. Siegler - In a tweet, M.G. Siegler, general partner at Google Ventures wrote about Threads, “Sort of strange that Instagram is about to launch Threads to try to eat Twitter just as Retro is starting to eat Instagram Stories…” (Google Ventures)
Elon Musk
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Elon Musk's right-wing turn on Twitter challenges Silicon Valley's liberal image. (REUTERS)

Since his tumultuous takeover of Twitter, Elon Musk has made an unabashed turn to the right politically, defying the orthodoxy that Silicon Valley is a citadel of well-heeled liberals beholden to Democrats. Long considered non-identifiable ideologically, Musk's politics are now hardline right wing as he uses his platform (now called X) to stoke the themes cherished by Fox News, conservative talk radio and far right movements across the West.

In just the latest example, repeating a conspiracy theory of far right chat rooms, Musk last week posted that US President Joe Biden was importing migrants for votes, laying the groundwork for "something far worse than 9/11."

But beyond the posts, the question on everyone's mind is whether the world's second richest person will put his weight, and wealth, behind the bid of former US president Donald Trump to retake the White House.

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The rumor mill went into overdrive when The New York Times reported that the two men met, along with other Republican donors, in Florida last week.

Trump is seriously trailing Biden in raising campaign funds, even if he sailed toward the Republican nomination to be US president, and Musk could single handedly make up the shortfall.

Musk turned to X to insist that "to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President."

But the funding of US elections is opaque and complicated, and Biden backers worry that Musk could change his mind or fund political committees that themselves finance Trump, or find other ways to help the Republican cause.


Musk is not alone: other Silicon Valley mavens are also defending conservative causes, making noise in what electorally remains a liberal stronghold; in 2020, Trump's vote share in Silicon Valley was less than 25 percent.

Some tycoons are seeking to build a political movement that, even if not directly supporting Trump, embraces conservative causes, cryptocurrencies, and goes against the California grain.

One of the loudest voices in this shift is Marc Andreessen, the early internet tycoon who founded Netscape and now co-runs Andreessen Horowitz, a venerable venture capital company.

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Once a typically left-of-center tech magnate, who had close ties to former vice president Al Gore, Andreessen now fights vehemently against left-wing priorities, especially so-called "woke" considerations about equality or workplace inclusiveness.

Last year, in a 5,200-word "techno-optimist manifesto," Andreessen laid out a techno-utopian vision for the future that listed co-opted government, regulation and worries about discrimination or equality as enemies.

Like many of his fellow right-wing investors, Andreessen's company is heavily invested in cryptocurrencies and last year launched a political war chest to make trouble for lawmakers, Democratic or Republican, who want the nascent industry more heavily controlled.

For tech analyst Carolina Milanesi, the newly emerging outspokenness could be less about aping Musk than worry from an old guard that the status quo is vanishing.

"As people are talking about wokeness, when you're talking about either diversity, equality and inclusion, or you're talking about sustainability, all of those things, basically are a threat to the status quo," she said.

This exasperation with what Musk calls the "woke mind virus" is what drives a hit podcast called "All-In," where four tech bigwigs, some friends with Musk, opine about the world and the latest tech developments.

The hosts include David Sacks, one of the members of the PayPal mafia, a group of men that includes Musk, who worked at that late 1990s startup and since became the representatives of Silicon Valley's small but growing right-leaning faction.

Another PayPal veteran is investor Peter Thiel, a German-born arch conservative who associated himself with Trump when he entered the White House.

After the assault of the US Capitol in 2021, Thiel said he would stay out of politics and has since become a sort of philosopher king of Silicon Valley's right-wing who remains above the fray.

- 'Far left' AI -

The power of this new guard is beginning to be felt with the diversity minded tech companies on the back foot over criticisms that San Francisco is ridden with drugs and crime or that generative AI has become too "woke."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai last month found himself under fire, and his company's share price bruised, after it emerged that its just launched Gemini AI app had generated images of ethnically diverse World War II Nazi troops and other ahistorical gaffes.

"The people running Google AI are smuggling in their preferences and their biases, and those biases are extremely liberal," said Sacks in an All-In podcast segment titled "Google's woke AI disaster."

In a sign of rising conservative influence, Google's Pichai called the AI snafu "completely unacceptable" and founder Sergey Brin said "we definitely messed up" in generating such "far left" imagery.

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First Published Date: 10 Mar, 09:42 IST