SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Billionaire investor Peter Thiel’s support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has baffled many in Silicon Valley for a matter of months, and now it’s seeped into the very dealings of his business in the region.
Over the weekend, the New York Timesreported that Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign. By Sunday, some members of the the industry took to Twitter to ask whether Y Combinator, the prestigious startup accelerator where Thiel is a “part time partner,” is considering cutting ties with the investor given his participation in Trump’s campaign.
Paul Graham, Y Combinator’s co-founder and former president, and Sam Altman, its current president, argued that Thiel’s political views shouldn’t be reason to do so. Altman is the same man who voiced, and continues to voice, his opposition of Trump’d candidacy.
Adding insult to injury for Thiel is the fact he has argued in the past that women’s right to vote has been problematic for “capitalist democracy.” He also co-authored a book in the mid-1990s that was critical of Stanford University’s movement for the study and acceptance multiculturalism, though years later he somewhat backtracked on his criticism of his alma mater.
In a blog post published on Monday, Altman says while he doesn’t plan to fire Thiel over his support for a major party’s nominee, “of course, if Peter said some of the things Trump says himself, he would no longer be part of Y Combinator.”
For some people, Thiel’s so-called antics are just too much. On Monday, Project Include, an organization co-founded by a group of prominent women in the tech industry, including former venture capitalist and Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, and Tracy Chou, who kickstarted the diversity reporting trend among companies when she worked at Pinterest, said that it’s cutting ties with Y Combinator because of its continued relationship with Thiel. The organization aims to collect and share data to help increase diversity among tech company employees.
“Thiel’s actions are in direct conflict with our values at Project Include,” Pao writes in a blog post, on behalf of the organization. “Because of his continued connection to YC, we are compelled to break off our relationship with YC,” she says, adding that Project Include hopes “this situation changes, and that we are both willing to move forward together in the future.”
Additionally, after he stood on a stage declaring he was proud to be an openly gay American at July’s Republican National Convention, leading gay magazineThe Advocateran an op-ed arguing that Thiel is not actually gay because he endorsed Donald Trump for president.
“Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who made news this summer for endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican convention, is a man who has sex with other men. But is he gay?” opens the editorial, by Connecticut College professor of history Jim Downs.
“Since the Paleolithic Age, people have had sex with people of the same gender. But the notion that this made someone ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ was a relatively recent phenomenon in human history,” Downs argues.