Biden Is Not Relinquishing The Battle For Silicon Valley’s Campaign Cash

(Yahoo! Finance) - Donald Trump made a splash this past week in Silicon Valley, signaling he wants to challenge for the Bay Area’s deep pockets.

But President Biden isn’t going to give those donors up without a fight.

A review of campaign finance records, including Biden’s top individual contributors so far this campaign season, shows that the president is still very much in the fight for Big Tech cash in 2024.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman sits atop Biden's list with more than $9 million in donations to the president and outside groups supporting Biden, according to data compiled by campaign finance trackers at OpenSecrets.

Hoffman has given millions more to groups supporting Democratic congressional candidates.

He even posted an essay about his support for Biden Thursday, just as Trump headed to San Francisco for a highly anticipated fundraiser that appears to have put about $12 million in the former president’s coffers.

The Hoffman essay was a rebuttal of sorts to the inroads Trump has made among tech executives and Wall Street more generally, with an argument that Trump’s behavior and his disregard for the rule of law would be bad for business.

"Unfortunately, many American business leaders have recently developed a kind of myopia, miscalculating what politics, and which political leaders, will truly support their long-term success," Hoffman wrote.

He is hardly the only one on the West Coast with those views. Eight of Biden’s top 20 supporters so far this campaign have direct ties to Silicon Valley. Those figures range from Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz, with $7.3 million in donations so far, to former Facebook (META) COO Sheryl Sandberg, who has given more than half a million.

The list grows when Biden's big supporters supporters in Hollywood are included. DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and actor Seth MacFarlane have given more than $1 million each, according to the records.

The totals could already be significantly higher, with campaign finance records running on a delay because of disclosure requirements. Much of the data compiled in recent days is through April, with some updates not expected for weeks or months given the varying disclosure rules.

And many billionaire gifts to both candidates will, of course, never be known, with certain groups able to accept so-called dark money that isn't disclosed.

Dueling trips to the valley

The race for Big Tech’s cash played out during recent twin trips by Biden and Trump to the area.

Biden visited Silicon Valley in early May. He first traveled to the Portola Valley home of Vinod Khosla, the billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to raise cash.

Then came another fundraising stop in Palo Alto alongside Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California’s governor. During those remarks, Biden said the two women were "emblematic of how America is changing."

Biden then immediately flew to Seattle to vacuum up more Big Tech dollars at the home of Jon Shirley, the former president of Microsoft (MSFT) who is also an art collector.

"Welcome to the Seattle art museum," Biden joked as he began his remarks. Brad Smith, a current vice chair and president at Microsoft, was also in attendance.

Trump’s Silicon Valley stop this week also resulted in tech billionaires opening their checkbooks. Thursday’s event was co-hosted by investor David O. Sacks and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya. Prominent members of the crypto community were notably in attendance as well.

Sacks also posted an essay formally endorsing Trump and reiterated his reasons for getting behind the former president.

Messari CEO Ryan Selkis, one of the attendees, thanked Sacks in a social media post afterward for "making it feel safer for tech leaders to support President Trump this year."

A money race that is tightening overall

Biden has enjoyed a fundraising edge in 2024 but has seen his advantage diminish in recent months as Republicans consolidate behind Trump following his primary season victory.

Donald Trump's overall operation — both the campaign and outside groups — said it raised nearly $300 million in May by leveraging a surge of support among small-dollar donors on top of his strength with billionaires.

According to OpenSecrets, almost 69% of Trump's funds have come from large contributions, with small individual contributions of less than $200 making up most of the remainder.

Biden's ratio is only slightly more even, with about 54% coming from large contributors and 46% from those smaller checks.

Biden hasn’t yet released his fundraising totals for May, but the most recent data available showed his campaign had more than $84 million on hand through the end of April.

His overall operation, including outside SuperPACs, has millions more stowed away for the coming campaign.

By Ben Werschkul - Washington Correspondent


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