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Andrew Yang vaults to the front of the 2020 pack with a surprisingly big haul from Big Tech

Andrew Yang vaults to the front of the 2020 pack with a surprisingly big haul from Big Tech
[Photos: Flickr user Gage Skidmore; Bartosz Kwitkowski/Unsplash]

This story has been updated with the latest fundraising numbers, which are more comprehensive than those included in an earlier version that drew from the FEC’s raw filings.

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Maybe the besieged residents of Silicon Valley have finally found their savior. Under attack on all fronts—by a bipartisan posse of politicians, pesky journalists, leading presidential candidates, and the public—over their privacy practices and monopolistic tendencies, employees at large tech companies are increasingly turning to one of their own to help them avoid calamity.

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur turned presidential candidate, raked in donations from Big Tech in the third quarter of 2019, getting $90,046 from employees at Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. That’s close to triple the total he raised in the first two quarters of this year, just behind Pete Buttigieg ($105,655) and out-raising candidates who poll better than him nationally such as Kamala Harris ($73,993).

And though his fundraising haul in the quarter lags behind Elizabeth Warren ($150,758) and Bernie Sanders ($133,292), it’s still impressive for a relative newcomer. Maybe that’s because he’s taken a more nuanced approach to reining in the industry. At Tuesday night’s debate, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders jousted over who would be tougher on Big Tech, with the Massachusetts senator taking aim at Amazon in particular, saying the company “runs the platform, gets all the information, and then goes into competition with those little businesses.”

“Look, you get to be the umpire in the baseball game or you get to have a team, but you don’t get to do both at the same time,” she said. “We need to enforce our antitrust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Oil, all of them.”

Sanders chimed in that he’ll have “the guts to appoint an attorney general who will take on these huge monopolies, protect small business and protect consumers by ending the price fixing that you see every day.”

But Yang took a more subtle approach, knocking down Warren’s remedy and suggesting instead “new solutions and a new toolkit,” without offering specifics. “There are absolutely excesses in technology, and in some cases having them divest parts of their business is the right move. But we also have to be realistic that competition doesn’t solve all of the problems.”

Other surprising findings in the latest fundraising filings:

  • President Trump ($24,482 in Q3) increased his share of donations from the big five companies compared to the first two quarters of the year—close behind former Vice President Joe Biden ($31,896). However, despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s outreach to conservatives, Trump is not very popular with the company’s workforce, raising only $514 from a single employee.
  • Lowly Republican rivals Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, who rank at the bottom of the polls and get no support from the Republican National Committee, did manage to raise almost $1,800 between them from the tech giants.
  • Self-made billionaire Tom Steyer isn’t very popular either, raising only $250 from a single Microsoft employee.
  • An employee at Google/Alphabet whose occupation is “horses” contributed $75 to Bernie Sanders.
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