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The Collapsed Marriage Of Silicon Valley And The Democratic Party

Inside the divorce rattling silicon valley and democratic politics

Gabriel​ Debenedetti

Three summers ago, a worker stood up at “Q&A,” Facebook’s weekly all-hands, town-hall-style meeting, which is usually held on Friday afternoons in Menlo Park and live streamed to its offices around the world— and aggressively closed to the public and press—to ask Mark Zuckerberg whether the company had a plan in case the public turned against it, like what had happened to the big banks a few years earlier. ¶ Zuckerberg didn’t even know how to answer the question. That backlash won’t happen, he said, as long as the company keeps shipping products people like. Some conservative commentators had been accusing Facebook, with little evidence, of censoring their voices, but the company remained popular. Hillary Clinton, sure to be the next president, was shaping up to be a great friend of Facebook’s and of tech titans in general.

In fact, there were few more reliable allies of Silicon Valley in national politics than the Democratic Party. Democrats and many of Silicon Valley’s leaders were partners on everything from campaign funding to voter-data programs. Sheryl Sandberg, of Lean In fame, had traveled to Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters to talk about gender equality with the candidate and her staff almost as soon as the campaign launched in 2015. The following August, Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s widow, held an intimate dinner for Clinton and about 20 industry leaders, each of


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