In early May, Ron Conway decided it was high time to hold a little virtual soiree for his longtime friend, Gavin Newsom, who had learned just a week before that he was going to face a recall as the governor of California. Conway, whose inimitable network is legend in the Valley, sent out word to his high-dollar donor pals, and on May 6, about 30 of them—Sean Parker, Reid Hoffman, Marissa Mayer, along with up-and-comers like Tony Xu of DoorDash—piled onto a Zoom to chat with Newsom and his political brain trust, Juan Rodriguez and Sean Clegg.
The event wasn’t technically a fundraiser, but rather an “in-depth briefing on the plan to defeat the Republican recall,” according to the invite I obtained. Newsom made a soft pitch to the crowd. Then Conway came with the hard sell. He was in for an initial commitment of $200,000. Would others match, he asked?
No, said another major donor. Instead, this person insisted that they would throw down $500,000—and asked the fellow Zoomers to match that. The hat was passed around the virtual pews, with some donors volunteering just how deeply they would dig to support their governor. “Hand-to-hand combat is very much within his wheelhouse,” said one person who has watched Conway raise money for Newsom over the last few months. “He is the kind of guy that calls, emails, and texts, and does not take no for an answer.”