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Trump heads to tech fundraiser in San Francisco, with some guests paying $300,000

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures outside Trump Tower, the day after a guilty verdict in his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City, U.S., May 31, 2024. 
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

A pair of tech investors and podcasters are hosting Donald Trump on Thursday for a high-profile fundraiser in San Francisco, the latest sign that an industry once hostile to the former president has warmed to the Republican candidate.

David Sacks, a prominent venture capitalist and part of the “PayPal mafia,” is holding the fundraiser at his Pacific Heights residence. Tickets sold for $50,000 a head, with a $300,000 tier that includes perks like a photo with Trump. It comes a week after Trump was convicted in New York of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The co-host is Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of investment firm Social Capital who is known on Wall Street for promoting special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) during the tech boom in 2020 and 2021. Sacks and Palihapitiya are two of the four hosts of the popular All-In podcast.

The event sold out and is expected to raise $12 million for Trump. Sacks declined to comment. Palihapitiya didn’t return requests for comment by the time of publication.

The fundraiser in the heart of the tech capital represents a growing shift in sentiment toward Trump, especially in what’s been historically a liberal stronghold. Though Sacks has long been a conservative, he donated to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. In recent years, he’s thrown his support behind the Republican party and started publicly backing Trump when it was clear he’d be the Republican nominee. Palihapitiya donated more than $250,000 to Biden in 2020, according to campaign records. 

“I know there’s going to be a lot of people who support Trump, but they don’t want to admit it,” Sacks said on the podcast last week. “And I think that this event is going to break the ice on that. And maybe it’ll create a preference cascade, where all of a sudden it becomes acceptable to acknowledge the truth.”

That’s not to say Trump has lacked support from big money techies in the past.

PayPal co-founder and prominent investor Peter Thiel spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and was then a member of Trump’s transition team.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Getty Images

But there’s been tension. Also In 2016, Intel’s then-CEO Brian Krzanich planned a fundraiser for Trump, but abruptly canceled it once media got wind and began asking questions. 

In July of that year, about 140 prominent technologists penned an open letter denouncing Trump’s politics, writing that he “campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline.”

Still, Republican policies are often seen as friendlier to the tech industry because they favor less regulation and lower taxes. One of Trump’s signature accomplishments in his term centered around hefty tax cuts, and he got tough on China while carving out exemptions to protect tech companies from tariffs. He also doled out government contracts to defense tech companies like Palantir, which Thiel co-founded. 

Much of the turn towards Trump ahead of the 2024 election is the result of disdain for the policies of President Biden. Under Biden, the SEC has taken measures against cryptocurrencies and his antitrust regulators have cracked down on mega-cap tech companies.

 For those in Sacks’ camp, there’s a laundry list of issues.

“Biden came into office promising a return to normalcy,” Sacks posted on X on June 2. “What has he actually given us? A decelerating economy. A spike in inflation. A world on fire. Vindictive partisan witch hunts. Dems are going all in on lawfare because they’ve got nothing else to run on.”

WATCH: Venture capitalists host Trump for fundraiser

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