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Pete Buttigieg is way ahead of his 2020 rivals when it comes to poaching talent from Big Tech

Pete Buttigieg is way ahead of his 2020 rivals when it comes to poaching talent from Big Tech
[Photos: Flickr user Phil Roeder; Bartosz Kwitkowski/Unsplash]

Though Big Tech has been in the crosshairs of the 2020 presidential candidates—most of whom have called for the giant companies to be broken up—that hasn’t stopped plenty of executives and staffers at Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft from taking jobs with the campaigns.

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By far, the biggest beneficiary of this mini brain drain has been South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s staffed up top leadership positions with tech executives. His national political director, Stephen Brokaw, came over from Google, where he was a marketing manager. His chief innovation officer, Ann Mei Chang, was a senior engineering director at Google for eight years. His national policy director, Sonal Shah, has worked at think tanks in recent years but was the head of global development initiatives at Google from 2007 to 2009. And his talent director, Nadia Singer, previously worked at Quora and Facebook.

In total, 12 staffers on Buttigieg’s campaign previously worked at one of the big tech companies.

The Facebook connection may be obvious considering Buttigieg’s friendship with Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg. (The South Bend mayor was also one of the first 300 users on the social network.) Last month, a campaign spokesperson revealed that the Facebook CEO and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have made hiring recommendations to Buttigieg, though they have yet to officially endorse a candidate.

Buttigieg has also raked in cash from the sector, as the top recipient of California donors who work in tech. He brought in over $275,000 in campaign contributions through the end of September this year. His donors include investor Ron Conway, Adobe’s chief product officer Scott Belsky, Doordash CEO Tony Xu, Facebook Libra chief David Marcus, and Wendy Schmidt, the wife of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Some surprises in our analysis (via tracking LinkedIn updates):

  • Andrew Yang: The tech candidate, entrepreneur has only hired one staffer from a big tech company (Apple, as well as another hire—a former Tesla product specialist).
  • Tom Steyer: Bottom-polling candidate has looked to Silicon Valley to fill four positions, including a former Google data scientist as his director of analytics.
  • Elizabeth Warren: The second-favorite destination for Big Tech employees is the Warren campaign, which has hired five staffers who previously worked at Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
  • Donald Trump and Joe Biden: The Trump and Biden campaigns haven’t hired a single staffer from the big tech companies.
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