Intel’s CEO just wanted to throw a fundraiser for the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee. In any other election, that would not raise an eyebrow. This is not any other election cycle.
Krzanich’s invite triggered a major backlash by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors and founders. Krzanich cancelled the event and issued a statement vowing to maintain neutrality in the general election.
The animus toward Donald Trump is making business-as-usual—CEOs donating large sums to ingratiate themselves with both parties—a far more fraught proposition. Technology companies have long been even-handed in dispensing corporate cash to Republicans and Democrats.
Since 2008, Intel has given almost equally to both parties, donating about $600,000 a year. For the tech sector as a whole, which has given $377 million in political donations since 2002, 45% went to Democrats and liberal candidates while 55% went to Republicans and conservatives, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Yet the fierce Trump backlash from some of Silicon Valley’s high-profile investors and founders could change that equation, at least for presidential candidates. Critics of Krzanich blasted his decision as implicitly supporting Trump’s anti-immigration views, contrary to Intel’s principles and those of its founder, immigrant Andy Grove.
Bijan Sabet, a Boston-based venture capitalist and board member at Twitter and Tumblr, was equally harsh.
They have not been alone in condemning Trump and his rhetoric over the past year. Chief executives at Amazon and Facebook have lashed out at Trump, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s CEO Meg Whitman has called him a“demagogue” and told CNBC that “under no circumstances will I support Donald Trump.”
Of course, there are still high profile Trump supporters in the Valley. Facebook board member and billionaire investor Peter Thiel is slated to serve as one of Trump’s California delegates at the Republican National Convention later this year.
Clarification: An earlier version of this graph included Renaissance Technologies which is an investment firm rather than a company.
The image is from the BarkShop, which offers both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton chew toys.