Silicon Valley has already sunk its claws into the 2020 election.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is running for president, along with many other Democrats. But he may have an advantage that the others don’t in connections with Silicon Valley. In the past six years, Silicon Valley, and especially billionaire Reid Hoffman, have donated consistently to Booker. Hoffman was originally Booker’s angel investor in 2012.
According to a recent Recode article, Booker and Hoffman were friends in college. While Booker moved from a tech start-up into liberal politics, Hoffman founded LinkedIn and Greylock Partners. He recently became a board member on Microsoft’s board of directors in 2017.
Hoffman was exposed by The New York Times in December for having donated $100,000 to an organization that had manipulated the special election in Alabama through several fake social media accounts meant to sway voters in favor of the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones. (Jones won by a small margin.) Hoffman also funded an operation that created fake accounts during the 2018 midterm elections in Texas.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Hoffman has personally donated $23,700 to Booker, while his companies also gave to Booker. LinkedIn gave $57,400 and Greylock Partners gave $75,100 over the span of six years.
Similarly, Microsoft did not donate to Booker until 2018. Reid Hoffman joined Microsoft in 2017. In the year 2018, Microsoft donated $70,840. While Microsoft donated millions to both sides, during the midterm election Cory Booker was in the top ten for donations to individual candidates.
Booker tried to found a technology start-up before he ran for political office, which was funded by Reid Hoffman as an angel investor. Booker raised $1.75 million from investments from Hoffman, Oprah Winfrey, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. The Columbia Journalism Review called Booker’s business ties with major donors “blatant cronyism.” Booker later donated his shares of the business in order to avoid criticism.
Booker was also a guest speaker for LinkedIn. Hoffman even tweeted out in support of Booker after the talk.