One of Donald Trump's biggest donors in Silicon Valley is renouncing his support of the president after last week's riot at the Capitol, Recode has learned.
Doug Leone, a billionaire investor who donated a lot of money to Trump and was even a member of a White House task force, is making his first public comments so far about his years of support for Trump. Leone, a longtime head of elite venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, has tried to keep a low profile but has drawn fire for being one of the few big tech figures actively backing Trump.
“After last week's horrific events, President Trump lost many of his supporters, including me,” Leone said in a statement to Recode. “The actions of the president and other speakers were responsible for inciting the rioters. We need to find the best way to move forward as a country, get behind our newly elected president, and start working on the many difficult issues facing America. "
Leone's sentencing is the latest sign that the tech industry is showing less tolerance for Trump after last week's attempt to prevent the Electoral College's vote from being certified. Some tech companies have changed their political donation strategies, and others leaders discuss ways to ensure that Trump supporters or aides are no longer welcomed into Silicon Valley's warm embrace.
Despite its liberal feel, Silicon Valley has conservatives – but proud Trump supporters have always been few and far between. That's why Leone stood out.
Leone and his wife, Patti, have donated more than $ 700,000 to support Trump's reelection campaign, making them among the biggest contributors to pro-Trump goals in the Bay Area, according to a review of FEC records. They donated to everything from pro-Trump super PACs to the Republican National Committee.
Leone has long been a supporter of GOP candidates dating back to George W. Bush's first campaign for president, but Leone has also recently donated a lot to groups that support Trump allies, such as Senator Lindsey Graham and the Republicans who are in Georgia fought for the Senate.
Leone & # 39; s support for the president has gone beyond just being a donor – he has also cultivated ties with the Trump administration. Leone was the only major Silicon Valley figure named after a White House task force this spring about the country's post-pandemic economic recovery. And this summer, Leone reportedly told "people he could use his influence at Trump to help" TikTok, the Chinese app owned by a Sequoia portfolio company that spent months in the middle of a regulatory firestorm.
All those ties make Leone's statement more important.
Meanwhile, other prominent Silicon Valley supporters of Trump are silent. Peter Thiel, arguably Trump's best-known tech financial backer, has said nothing about Trump's results or recent behavior since the election. A spokesman for Thiel did not return a request for comment last week. Oracle founder Larry Ellison, one of the richest people in the world, organized a fundraising campaign for Trump earlier this year and has grown close with him. An Ellison spokesperson has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
One of the prominent voices in Silicon Valley encouraging corporate rethink is actually Leone & # 39; s close colleague, Michael Moritz, who has donated millions to support Democrats in this cycle. Moritz and Leone served as Sequoia's two co-leaders for years, likely sparking some spirited conversations between them about politics during the Trump years.
“Nearly five years ago, I tried in vain to bring Mr. Trump's past as a conman, bully, racist, failed entrepreneur and authoritarian to the corporate world,” Moritz wrote in a column published in the Financial Times on Monday, without mentioning Leone or a specific manager by name. “Many business people scoffed at this portrait of Mr. Trump – they preferred to support him because they liked many of his policies. Their arguments always reminded me of the Prussian military leaders and German business magnates who thought they could control the dark tendencies of an army corporal turned political strongman in the 1920s. "
Trump is now facing impeachment as some of his staunch supporters like Leone are turning against him.
Here is Leone's full statement to recode:
I strongly condemn the attack on the Capitol and all acts of violence. Attacking our democracy will not advance our nation, and those who stormed the Capitol must be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. After last week's horrific events, President Trump lost many of his supporters, including me. The actions of the president and other speakers at the meeting were responsible for inciting the rioters. We need to find the best way forward as a country, get behind our newly elected president, and start working on the many difficult issues facing America.