A few months ago, when Ron DeSantis was still being coy about his obvious ambition for the presidency, the Florida governor made a clandestine pilgrimage to Silicon Valley. DeSantis was a shiny object in the world of G.O.P. donors, and he was in town to lock down the support of some of the wealthiest and most connected people in his party. And during one evening on this particular trip, DeSantis had a powerful ally: David Sacks.
The ex-PayPal billionaire, Elon sidekick, libertarian-ish podcast star and aspiring political maestro had quietly organized a dinner for top Bay Area leaders to hear directly from the governor. It wasn’t a fundraiser, but one subtext at least was clear—when the time came for DeSantis to actually raise money, Sacks would be the guy in his corner.
On Wednesday, Sacks will emcee a Twitter Spaces conversation between DeSantis and Musk, in which the long-time sotto voce Trump rival will formally announce his presidential run. The honor is also a sort of coronation for Sacks: As he ushers DeSantis into the race, he is establishing a new archetype of an influencer-donor—sought-after not just for his phenomenal wealth, but also his media profile in conservative circles. Sacks, after all, is powerful not merely because of the money he directly controls, but because of the people he can activate—whether they are his podcast listeners or his far-richer buddies, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, among them.