Outnumbered and outvoted in hubs of innovation like Silicon Valley and Seattle, conservatives in the overwhelmingly blue industry have faced a challenging political environment for years — especially during the Obama era when the White House had Google and Facebook chiefs on speed dial.
But several deep-pocketed Republicans have managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the tech world, including a few who even backed Donald Trump publicly last year over techie favorite Hillary Clinton. According to Wired, employees at tech firms overwhelmingly supported Clinton’s campaign.
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questsin has selected these 25 high-tech heavyweights who run against the grain in Silicon Valley and beyond, wielding their influence, forward-thinking, and resources to promote Republican candidates and ideals.
1. Peter Thiel — The billionaire co-founder of PayPal last year threw his support, and a big chunk of his money, behind Trump, earning him a speaking spot at the GOP convention. Thiel made headlines — not because of his Silicon Valley ZIP code, but because of his sexual orientation. “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican,” he has said. “But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” Thiel isn’t just a Trump Republican; he’s donated almost $5 million to various GOP candidates and PACs over the past few years.
2. Larry Ellison — Oracle co-founder and executive chairman Ellison has donated over the years to Democrats and Republicans, but hosted fundraisers for Sen. Rand Paul in 2014 and Marco Rubio in 2016. In addition to hosting the Rubio dinner, Ellison was reportedly the second-largest donor to the Florida senator’s 2016 presidential bid through Conservative Solutions PAC, giving the super PAC $4 million throughout the campaign. The billionaire has continued to support the GOP after the November election, hosting a Republican fundraiser in his Silicon Valley home in April 2017.
3. Meg Whitman — The former Hewlett-Packard and eBay executive ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010, losing badly after pouring $144 million of her own money into the race. She backed Chris Christie in 2016 but endorsed Clinton over Trump after Christie dropped out. Still, she said, she remains a staunch Republican.
4. Marc Andreessen — While funding and supporting Democrats in the past, Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape and a director of eBay, Facebook, and Hewlett-Packard made a political shift when he threw his considerable weight, and wallet, behind Mitt Romney in 2012. “You do not get a high-end, professional CEO running for president very often,” the co-founder and partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz told CNBC at the time.
5. Michael Dell — The Dell Technologies founder and former CEO has a long history of backing Republicans, including many in his home state of Texas. While he regularly makes smaller donations to (mostly) GOP candidates, he made a whopping $250,000 contribution in 2002 to the Republican National Committee. Even though his company is headquartered near Austin, Texas, Dell has developed strong ties to Silicon Valley by establishing mentors and opening an R&D center there.
6. Scott McNealy — The Sun Microsystems co-founder, who self-identifies as a “raging capitalist,” is bullish on Trump. "I’ve never seen anybody who actually is a developer and an entrepreneur in charge and understanding what really projects capability in our country,” McNealy told Fox Business. In 2012, he also backed Mitt Romney, with whom he shares a secondary school alma mater in Michigan.
7. Steve Ballmer — The former Microsoft CEO has given plenty of cash to Democrats, but he is a self-described Republican who worked on George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and has helped many other GOP candidates. He has offered tempered praise for Trump’s travel ban, saying it’s “important to have reasonably secure borders.” And he said Trump’s message about business stimulating jobs inside the country “is not a bad theme at all.”
8. Paul Otellini — The former Intel CEO and president tried to work closely with the Obama White House, despite once famously saying the Democrat did not understand “what it takes to create jobs.” But Otellini, an executive with Trident Capital Cybersecurity, has made no secret of his preference for Republicans. He publicly backed, and financially supported, both John McCain and Romney in their races against Obama.
9. Sarah Pompei — Possessing a lengthy Republican résumé before making the jump to Silicon Valley: Pompei advised Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial bid in 2010, ran Romney's regional press in 2012, and worked briefly in the House GOP leaderships. She then left politics for senior communications roles at Hewlett-Packard and, now, rideshare app Lyft.
10. Garrett Johnson — Co-founder of tech startup SendHub, Johnson differs from most other influencers considered among “Newsmax's 25 Most Influential Republicans in Tech” as his impact is more felt at the grassroots level. As executive director and co-founder of the Lincoln Network, he’s a leader in building up and organizing right-leaning thinkers in the tech community in an effort to affect public policy with technological solutions driven toward freedom.
11. Scott Banister — A PayPal board member and tech mega-investor, Banister strongly backed Rand Paul last year and supported Paul’s father Ron in 2012. When Rand Paul quit the race, Banister, a marijuana rights activist who describes himself as a Libertarian, threw his support to Ted Cruz. Banister’s wife Cyan is also a Republican super-donor.
12. Palmer Luckey — The 24-year-old founder of Oculus Rift took a bare-knuckled approach to the 2016 campaign, helping to finance a pro-Trump group that created harsh anti-Clinton memes. Specifically, the group, Nimble America, ran a billboard campaign featuring Clinton with the caption “Too Big to Jail.” Luckey self-describes as a Libertarian.
13. Tim Armstrong — The current AOL Inc. chief executive’s support for Republicans has caused headaches for one of AOL’s big media properties, the left-leaning Huffington Post, which quoted a “source” in 2011 saying Armstrong “calls himself a libertarian,” but is in fact “one of the most conservative people around.”
14. Don Scifres — The president of the tech startup SmartFile, Scifres is a venture capitalist who co-founded the SDL Capital investment firm and Spectra Diode Laboratories. Scifres has been a go-to GOP donor for years; in 2016, he backed Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz.
15. Aaron Ginn – An early founder of the growth hacking movement, Ginn specializes in data science and product development. He’s also one of the co-founders of Lincoln Network, formerly Lincoln Labs, an incubator for conservative tech professionals who, according to its website, is “devoted to building alliance of liberty and technology.” He also worked on Romney’s campaign in 2012.
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16. Chris Abrams — The co-founder and chief technology officer of Matters Media, which he describes as a “digital publishing holdings company with a tech twist.” Abrams is a self-described technologist and entrepreneur who previously worked with large organizations such as NASA and the Department of Defense, but also worked with dozens of small startups. He also works with Ginn on Lincoln Network.
17. Brian Krzanich — The CEO of Intel since 2013, Krzanich agreed to host a Trump fundraiser last year at his California home but canceled it. Amid uproar, he later said he was staying neutral in the 2016 election. But unlike many other tech leaders, he has decided to work very closely with Trump in the White House.
18. Eric Jackson — Jackson, a former PayPal executive, is also the co-founder of CapLinked, a group focused on linking tech companies and investors. He has been active in conservative causes for decades and frequently appears as a conservative commentator on radio and TV.
19. Keith Rabois — A technology entrepreneur, executive, and investor, Rabois is known for his early-stage startup investments and his executive roles at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide, and Square. In response to Thiel’s convention speech last year, he tweeted that the “tech industry is primarily out of touch by being too far to the Left.”
20. Andrew Torba — According to TechCrunch, Torba “described himself as a lifelong ‘conservative Republican Christian,’” but is also the co-founder and CEO of Automate Ads and more famously the founder and CEO of Gab, a free speech-minded alternative to Twitter.
21. Scott Slinker — The CEO of analytics startup Paradata is a staunch supporter of Trump. Slinker told CNBC that the president is “racist for the American employee . . . He wants to get America back to work, and I think that’s a great thing.” Upon reflection, he stuck by his controversial words. “I hope you don’t edit that out,” he told the “Raw Story” host.
22. Dr. Susan Amat — A self-described serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in strategic entrepreneurship, Amat is the CEO and founder of Venture Hive, which finances startups and other tech companies. She served as an adviser to Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign.
23. John Rampton — The CEO of Due, a financial advice platform for small-business owners, backed Trump, he told USA Today, because “I like when business people run for president.” He's donated to the Trump campaign because Trump "speaks his mind and doesn't care what people think. That is how you effect change." It's not the most popular stance in the valley where, Rampton told the newspaper, "once a day, I'm asked to f*** myself for wearing a 'Make America Great Again' cap."
24. Tim Draper — The Bitcoin CEO is not overtly partisan and once said he doesn’t “fit into either political party.” Nonetheless, he has been a registered Republican who financed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other GOP candidates and has spoken out strongly against Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. In 2000, he spent $20 million of his own money on a failed effort to support school vouchers.
25. Tom Siebel — From 2009 to 2014, the Siebel Systems founder gave almost $350,000 to political candidates. Most of this largesse went to independents, but a big chunk went to GOP candidates and none went to Democrats. He also planned to host a fundraiser for Sarah Palin at his Woodside home in 2008, but the event was canceled.