- Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is a major Democratic donor, and has become a key figure in raising money and power.
- But, as Vox’s Theodore Schleifer reports, his approach hasn’t always been popular among Democratic operatives.
- Hoffman’s main focus seems to be on unseating Trump — but it’s unclear how, or if, he will stay involved beyond 2020.
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Billionaires are pouring money into both sides of the 2020 election. Michael Bloomberg is raising millions to help felons in Florida vote. Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus pledged in July 2019 to support Trump’s campaign — which in turn sparked a boycott of the home-improvement store.
The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the persistence of income inequality and low-income communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. With a “K-shaped” economic recovery looming — where high-earners bounce back, but the working class finds itself further indebted — the ultrawealthy stand to make more of an impact than ever.
And, as Business Insider’s Taylor Nicole Rogers reported, only 10% of billionaires had pledged as of July to donate to coronavirus relief.
But when billionaires do involve themselves heavily in politics, they may bring with them their own version of disruption — the Silicon Valley type
A new profile of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman by Vox’s Theodore Schleifer looks at the tech billionaire’s massive donations and nexus of power in the Democratic Party — and how that’s rubbed some the wrong way.
Hoffman is one of the party’s largest donors. As Schleifer details, he’s also persistent in bringing in fellow big donors and organizing among the three-comma club.
Key to Hoffman’s vision is “fixing” the Democratic Party, which Schleifer reports he’s done from both inside and outside of the establishment.
His drive to fix what he sees as party weaknesses — combined with his major focus on President Donald Trump — aligns with his early career path.
Hoffman received a master’s in philosophy from Oxford but, as Business Insider’s Richard Feloni reported, he chose to go into tech instead of academia because he believed that was a better place to answer his “guiding question” of “how do I help humanity evolve?”
He’s also said that rapidly growing tech companies should consider the ramifications that their growth could have on both stakeholders and on society at large.
Hoffman did not immediately reply to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Despite irking some Democratic officials, Hoffman is still ‘needed’
As Schleifer reports, Hoffman has bypassed the party itself to fund Democratic initiatives — including funneling $3 million into a 2017 election in Virginia through outside groups.
His bypassing of the party brass to get directly involved has had unintended effects at times, as when he accidentally funded a misinformation campaign in Alabama’s special election. Behind the scenes, Schleifer reports, Hoffman and his cash are sorely “needed.”
Although Hoffman initially fundraised for Sen. Cory Booker, he’s been vocal in personally making the case for Biden. He wrote a blog post in July titled, “A Vote for Biden Is a Vote for American Business,” and he was tapped to host a “high commitment” private fundraiser with President Barack Obama.
But throughout Schleifer’s reporting, a main concern from Democratic Party insiders — and campaigns focused on long-term progressive movements — is that Hoffman may be mainly focused on taking down Trump in 2020, and after that point his support may falter.
According to Vox, a member of Hoffman’s team reportedly told a party operative: “Win or lose, we’re not doing anything past 2020.”
Hoffman could very well “disrupt” the 2020 election, Silicon Valley style, and help usher in a return to what he calls “normal” for American business. If that’s successful, the Democratic Party may find itself returning to Hoffman’s guiding question — and evolving further into a party of billionaire disruption.