Silicon Valley Opens Its Wallet for Joe Biden

Biden has, on the whole, struck a warmer note with big tech. He isn’t as interested in cratering America’s relationship with China, which would be a net win for Silicon Valley. Still, Biden has signaled his intent to crack down on misinformation on social media, telling The New York Times earlier this year that he’s “never been a fan of Facebook.” He’s also signaled his intention to alter Section 230 and the protection it affords internet companies for what happens on their platforms. Overall, Biden’s friendly relationship with the valley has echoes of the Obama administration, a period when tech executives had massive influence in Washington.

Independent of what it would mean for their employers’ bottom lines, tech employees have made it known in recent years that they care deeply about issues like climate change and diversity, which are anathema to the Trump administration and central pillars of Biden’s campaign.

WIRED’s analysis of employee campaign contributions doesn’t necessarily represent the political orientation of any of these six companies or the majority of their employees. The FEC only publishes employer data on individuals who have contributed $200 or more to a presidential campaign in a given calendar year. This means employees at these companies may have made smaller contributions to a presidential campaign that aren’t included in the data. This analysis captures the donations of fewer than 5,300 individuals out of the 1.4 million people who work at these six companies.

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At none of the six companies did more than 1.2 percent of employees contribute more than $200 to a presidential campaign; at most of the companies, the portion of employees who made large contributions was substantially smaller. Alphabet and Facebook had the largest proportion of their employees who contributed $200 or more to either presidential campaign and Amazon had the smallest. At Alphabet and Facebook, fewer than 5 percent of employees who hit the contribution threshold donated to Trump. At Oracle, by contrast, 30 percent of employees who contributed $200 or more to a presidential campaign gave to Trump.

Companies are barred by federal law from contributing directly to candidates. But all of the companies in WIRED’s analysis except Apple maintain PACs that can contribute. Generally speaking, it is distributed to candidates that are seen as being supportive of the company’s goals. According to data from Open Secrets, the amount individual employees at these companies contributed to their employers’ PACs was roughly the same as the amount they contributed to individual presidential candidates.

Note on method: Campaign finance data was retrieved from the Federal Election Commission. The data includes campaign contributions made to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and Biden for President. The data includes contributions made to these campaigns between January 1, 2019, and August 31, 2020. The data from each company includes contributions made by employees at those companies’ major subsidiaries, namely: Alphabet (DeepMind, Google, Verily, Waymo, YouTube); Amazon (Audible, Whole Foods, Zappos, Ring, Twitch, Goodreads); Facebook (Whatsapp, Giphy, Instagram); Microsoft (Github, Skype, LinkedIn, Xbox); Oracle (Netsuite).

Updated 10-7-20, 1:15pm EST: Larry Ellison is no longer Oracle’s CEO, he is Oracle’s CTO and chairman.

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