Bill & Melinda Get Political

Bill and Melinda Gates
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty
Theodore Schleifer
January 4, 2022

It is January, and it is officially an election year. One of the big questions I’ve been reporting on over the last 18 months or so is whether Silicon Valley is done with politics—or is it just getting started? Donald Trump is no longer on the ballot, at least this fall, but there are a few telltale down ballot campaigns on my radar. They’re not the typical races that national media outlets will be covering, but they are races where, for one reason or another, some of the tech industry’s most influential players are asserting their will.

Plus, read all the way through for a little insight into Ron Conway’s latest tiff with the White House over pandemic readiness. Because the midterms aren’t the only big story of 2022—we know, sadly, that Covid will remain one, too.

The Gates-Kristof Vortex

For decades, Bill and Melinda Gates cultivated a reputation as above mere partisanship. They were, after all, one of America’s most celebrated non-celebrity couples, philanthropy rock stars knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and they had quite intentionally avoided descending into the earthly, oft-ugly world of political patronage, where contributions can recoil on billionaires who, above all else, want to maintain their status as citizens of the world.