Posted by Curt on 27 May, 2020 at 7:14 pm. 22 comments already!


Joe Biden has a problem. Silicon Valley billionaires think they have a solution.

Election Day is less than six months away, and Democrats are scrambling to patch the digital deficits of their presumptive nominee. And behind the scenes, Silicon Valley’s billionaire Democrats are spending tens of millions of dollars on their own sweeping plans to catch up to President Donald Trump’s lead on digital campaigning — plans that are poised to make them some of the country’s most influential people when it comes to shaping the November results.

These billionaires’ arsenals are funding everything from nerdy political science experiments to divisive partisan news sites to rivalrous attempts to overhaul the party’s beleaguered data file. They are pushing their favored, sometimes peculiar, fixes to a political ailment just like they might if on the board of a struggling startup.

This is all unfolding as the pandemic forces campaigns to pivot away from door-knocks and packed rallies and toward data mining and influencer marketing — which in many ways play to the strengths of these tech titans, making them even more influential at a time when many in the Democratic Party are uneasy with just how powerful some in tech have become.

Their investments matter all the more because of the candidate they inherited. Biden is rushing to hire more aides, create more engaging content, and build better ties with the Silicon Valley donors and talent that evaded him during the primary.

“Because the Biden campaign is the Biden campaign,” said one Democratic operative involved in these efforts, “what we are doing on the independent side matters a hell of a lot more than it would previously.”

What makes this all the more difficult is that Democrats have long struggled to coordinate their big-money spending like Republicans have, and that atomization has been exacerbated by the arrival of Silicon Valley money, whose hubristic entrepreneurs often prefer to do things their own way.

In Silicon Valley’s new political moment, four billionaires in particular — LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt — have the most ambitious plans, according to Recode’s interviews with over 20 donors and operatives. The chess moves of this power set are instrumental to fulfilling Democrats’ — and much of Silicon Valley’s — four-year quest to oust Donald Trump.

And yet each of these billionaires is moving their pieces with varying levels of secrecy, and often with minimal disclosure, scrutiny, or accountability.

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