Silicon Valley’s Wall Street Bets & the Phoenix Suns Sweepstakes

Laurene Powell Jobs
Laurene Powell Jobs attends the NBA London Game in 2019. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP
Theodore Schleifer
September 27, 2022

On Kalshi, a slickly-designed, legally ambitious trading platform, you can wager on whether Hurricane Ian, currently wending its way through the Gulf of Mexico, will become a Category 5 monster, and whether it will be Miami or Orlando that takes the pounding. You can bet on the water level at drought-stricken Lake Mead, on whether monkeypox will become a pandemic, or on whether NASA will return to the moon by 2025. So, asks a group of Silicon Valley super-personas, why is it that you can’t bet on whether Republicans retake the Senate?

A parade of tech industry heavyweights, including several Democratic mega-donors, are quietly pressing the case in an obscure but totally fascinating S.F. vs. D.C. political battle. For better or for worse, the group is marshaling all of their powers of elocution to persuade Washington to bring Wall Street-style trading to the world of American elections, ushering in a new era that critics fear would treat congressional races like a Vegas sportsbook.