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Tech investors’ ultimate hypocrisy: Hosting a $500K Trump fundraiser after decrying crime

A cursed throuple: Chamath Palihapitiya, Donald Trump and David Sacks. AI illustration by Jesse Rogala/The Standard

By Paul Bradley Carr

What a result for former President Donald Trump! A clean sweep! A landslide! No president has ever been convicted so totally. The jurors had tears in their eyes as they read the verdict.

“Sir, you are guilty on all 34 counts.”

And yet, as you hang up your “GUILTY!” banner and plan your family’s “Consequences At Last Day” celebration, spare a thought for two San Francisco Bay Area residents for whom Trump’s conviction is … less than ideal. 

I’m referring, of course, to David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, the ultra-wealthy tech executives and investors turned podcast bro-hosts turned all-in Trump super-supporters. 

Sacks and Palihapitiya are hosting an election fundraiser for Trump right here in San Francisco next week. Tickets to the event, which is being held at a top-secret location (aka Sacks’ big, fancy house in Pacific Heights), cost between $50,000 and $500,000, depending on how close you want to get to the guest of honor.

The optics of the fundraiser were already particularly challenging for Sacks. Longtime tech followers might recall that the Yammer founder has spent years trying to distance himself from a book he published in college with his pal Peter Thiel, in which he described date rape as “belated regret.” In 2016, Sacks explained to (who else?) Kara Swisher that the outcry was all a big misunderstanding. The book “does not represent who I am or what I believe today,” Sacks insisted. “I’m embarrassed by some of my former views and regret writing them.”

Because nothing says “I no longer defend rapists” like hosting a half-million dollar fundraiser for Trump.

Still, nobody can argue with Sacks and Palihapitiya’s more recent anti-crime bona fides. In 2021, Sacks penned a fiery essay attacking then-San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and his “decarceration disaster.” 

“The police are catching the bad guys,” he wailed, “but the DA keeps putting them right back on the street to commit the same crimes again.” 

Sacks then appeared on Megyn Kelly’s radio show where he vented about “Soros DAs” causing “chaos and lawlessness in San Francisco.” He was later able to point to a concrete example of this chaos: The tragic killing of Cash App founder Bob Lee, which Sacks said he would bet “dollars to dimes” was the work of a “psychotic homeless person”—a safe prediction, only slightly undermined by the fact that it was completely wrong.

Palihapitiya, an early Facebook employee and former Democratic donor who more recently led the cheerleading for the SPAC investment bubble, has been no less strident on the city’s problems, describing San Francisco as a “complete shitshow. infrastructure broken, people priced out, crime on the upswing, schools in disrepair … it’s horrible.”

Taken in this context, it’s easy to see Sacks and Palihapitiya’s slobbering support of Trump—a one-time slum landlord, now convicted felon, recently found liable for sexual assault and currently facing charges for alleged crimes committed in three other states—as yet another example of their spectacular hypocrisy. Or perhaps just the latest in a long line of embarrassments for the men who helped launch Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s election campaign and now suffer the weekly humiliation of sharing a podcast with Jason Calacanis.  

And, sure, it’s both of those things. But perhaps it’s also an opportunity: A chance for Sacks and Palihapitiya to take meaningful action to clean up San Francisco’s crime-ridden streets. 

Simply by rescinding their invitation to Trump, Sacks and Palihapitiya could in one fell swoop rid San Francisco’s streets of a rapist, an insurrectionist, and a 34-time convicted fraudster.

What do you say, besties? Time to go All-In?

Paul Bradley Carr has written about Silicon Valley for 25 years. His next book, The Confessions, will be published next year by Atria.

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