San Francisco Fetes Trump on Post-Conviction Fundraising Tour

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump raised millions of dollars from technology industry leaders at a campaign event in San Francisco hosted by investor David Sacks that signaled growing interest from Silicon Valley in the former president's comeback bid.

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Wealthy donors converged Thursday at Sacks’s home in San Francisco, where the presumptive Republican nominee addressed attendees for roughly an hour on topics ranging from cryptocurrency to artificial intelligence to preventing deep fakes.

The sold-out dinner brought in $12 million for Trump’s reelection effort, Harmeet Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee who attended the fundraiser, posted on social media site X. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request to comment about the money raised.

“It was a crowd who writes big checks,” said Dhillon, a lawyer who counts Trump as a client. Many crypto founders were in the room, she said, along with donors who had previously supported other Republican candidates or Democrats in the past. “It was very encouraging.”

Sacks co-hosted the event at Broadcliff, his house in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, along with investor Chamath Palihapitiya.

With tickets that started at $50,000 for a reception and photo and $300,000 for the dinner, the event generated intense interest in Silicon Valley, particularly because it came on the heels of Trump’s conviction in New York on 34 counts of falsifying records.

On Thursday night, several blocks of the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood were blocked off with barricades for the event. Puzzled passersby paused to watch crowds of flag-waving pro-Trump demonstrators.

That verdict has been followed by a swell of support for Trump in some corners of the tech world, including from Doug Leone, a former leader at the prestigious venture firm Sequoia Capital, and Shaun Maguire, a Sequoia partner who said last week he was giving $300,000 to Trump’s reelection. Other donors include Jacob Helberg, a senior adviser to the chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies Inc., who also planned to attend the fundraiser, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

The crowd included tech industry figures like crypto entrepreneurs and investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Dhillon said, the twins most famous for their claim that they had the original idea for Facebook. Trump implied they'd been cheated out of fair returns.

Trump has enjoyed unusually vocal support from the tech industry this election cycle — a contrast to 2016, when billionaire Peter Thiel was one of his only visible supporters. (Thiel has said he plans to sit out this cycle.) In addition to dining with Sacks and Palihapitiya this week, Trump will travel to Southern California, where he’s slated to attend another fundraiser on Saturday hosted by Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Anduril Industries Inc., a tech company that makes defense and weapons technology and is doing business with the US government.

David Friedberg, an investor who co-hosts the popular All-In podcast with Sacks and Palihapitiya, said in an email that tech’s interest in politics isn’t new. “Silicon Valley has always had political engagement, as far back as 20+ years ago many of the senior leaders and investors I knew in Silicon Valley were active one way or another politically,” he wrote. “Maybe political activism gets more attention nowadays given the increasing influence Silicon Valley has over the world and a reshaping media landscape.”

While the industry tends to lean Democratic and San Francisco is a heavily Blue city, tech leaders’ political preferences are often diffuse. Top issues include taxes, tech antitrust and crypto regulation — as well as foreign policy and immigration rules. Many tech players have donated to both parties. For example, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of the prominent firm Andreessen Horowitz have given to a range of causes, and have disavowed political affiliations. Instead they have taken an anti-regulation stance. The firm has said it will support candidates who are pro-tech, regardless of other issues — espousing a “techno-optimist” philosophy laid out by Andreessen in a manifesto last year.

More: Crypto Titans Threaten to Unleash War Chest on Hostile Lawmakers

Sacks, an investor and friend of Elon Musk, previously backed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis before throwing his support to Trump. He says he wants to put an end to Biden administration policies such as supporting the war in Ukraine. “The world’s on fire,” he said in a recent interview, adding that when Trump was in power previously, “they had four years of relative peace in the world.” Palihapitiya previously supported Democratic candidates in earlier races.

Trump is widely expected to appear alongside them on the All-In podcast, though an exact date for the taping has not been set.

“The voters have experienced four years of President Trump and four years of President Biden. In tech, we call this an A/B test,” Sacks posted on social media. “With respect to economic policy, foreign policy, border policy, and legal fairness, Trump performed better. He is the President who deserves a second term.”

For much of this cycle, President Joe Biden has been ahead in fundraising, including among donors from technology-related industries. The president and allied political action committees raised $18.1 million from donors with ties to the electronics and communications industries through May 21, according to campaign finance data compiled by OpenSecrets. Trump and his allies have received just $1.4 million from that sector during that timeframe.

While Trump’s event this week has attracted more attention, Biden has also been to Silicon Valley for fundraisers, including ones hosted by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures and former Yahoo executive Marissa Mayer. This week, Vice President Kamala Harris is also in the Bay Area, and is attending fundraising events.

--With assistance from Lizette Chapman and Laura Davison.

(Updates with fundraising total, event details and Sacks comment.)

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