Silicon Valley sources and friends who have received my midnight texts and emails already know that I’m darting across various time zones this week. While I’m on the road, however, I connected with Puck’s executive editor, Benjamin Landy, to discuss the current mood in political and philanthropic circles following a tech-stock meltdown that has drained the fortunes of some of the nation’s most powerful donors. The following conversation has been lightly edited.
Benjamin Landy: In retrospect, it feels like Silicon Valley’s political ambitions may have peaked alongside Nasdaq, SaaS valuations, crypto, NFTs, and everything else that’s now come crashing down. Is there a fear in Washington that the donor class is also retrenching?
Teddy Schleifer: Yes. I just returned from two weeks in Washington and New York, and the almost-unanimous fear of everyone in the Democratic fundraising universe is that the high-dollar spigot is not flowing like it was during the Trump era. That’s true on the center-left and the far-left alike. Some mega-donors love politics, and they’ll stick around. Others only engaged in politics because they felt that Trump, unlike, say, Mitt Romney in 2012, posed an existential threat to democracy. There is this broader concern that if a non-Trump Republican like Ron DeSantis is the 2024 nominee, that center-left Silicon Valley donors wouldn’t be as agitated as they were during the last election—even though, of course, Trumpism is here to stay in some form or another.