Tech leaders call Trump a ‘disaster’ for innovation

Melissa Mittelman

More than 100 technology leaders signed a letter naming Donald Trump a “disaster for innovation,” saying his views on immigration, internet security and government investment would stifle the technology industry and divide the nation.

Twitter Inc. co-founder Evan Williams, Box Inc. Chief Executive Officer Aaron Levie, EBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar, Qualcomm Inc.’s Irwin and Paul Jacobs and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla were among company founders, investors and employees that endorsed the letter written by Katie Jacobs Stanton, former vice president of global media at Twitter and a former special adviser on innovation at the U.S. State Department. The values of diversity, an open exchange of ideas and regard for legal and political institutions are under threat from a potential Trump presidency, according to the letter.

“We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not,” Stanton wrote in the letter released Thursday via Medium. “We stand against Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and want a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America’s technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity, public investments in research and infrastructure and respect for the rule of law.”

Few in Silicon Valley have publicly supported Trump with Facebook Inc. board member Peter Thiel a rare exception. Thiel is scheduled to speak on Trump’s behalf next week at the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland.

While Republican candidates usually gain strong financial support through campaign donations, those in the technology industry have contributed $3 million to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort compared with $31,000 for Trump, according to Crowdpac, a startup that tracks money in politics. The industry has donated a total of $10 million to presidential campaigns and super-political action committees thus far in the election cycle, according to the data.

Those who backed the letter did so in their personal capacity, not as a reflection of the organization, corporation or entity. Stanton didn’t reply to a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Trump didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.