Hillary Clinton Looking for Silicon Valley Money, Not Love

Hillary on iPhone (Charlie Niebergall / Associated Press)
Charlie Niebergall / Associated Press

Hillary Clinton has vacuumed up huge amounts of cash from Silicon Valley, but she is not spending money or time with the creative people of the “Valley of the Democrats.”

The digital revolution in campaign technology began in 2004 with Howard Dean’s early adoption of the New York-based Meetup.com app to organize tens of thousands of volunteers and use online strategies to raise more money than his Democrat opponents.

Barack Obama not only courted Silicon Valley tech CEOs cash for his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids, but he also set up a San Francisco technology office and welcomed hundreds of volunteer coders and web designers who worked ludicrous hours creating disruptive apps to help his campaign reach every last voter and collect every last dime.

In the 2016 election cycle, the Silicon Valley tech CEOs are almost exclusively backing Hillary Clinton and the Democrat establishment candidates.

But Hillary Clinton hasn’t built a Bay Area tech office or tried to recruit the type of viral support from an army of tech-savvy volunteers that Obama once attracted, or that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) mobilized against her in the 2016 Democrat primaries.

According to the East Bay Times, the Clinton campaign in April sponsored the high-visibility “Code for Hillary” hackathon in San Francisco. In stiff competition against dozens of crews, the team of Carla Mays, David Capelli and Rocio Lopez won the competition and had a photo-op with Hillary Clinton.

But despite hundreds of hours of work in the design competition, the Clinton campaign never gave the highly talented trio an opportunity to build out the app for the campaign against Republican Donald Trump. Clinton campaign officials responded to a Times inquiry that the hackathon’s purpose was to give tech volunteers a space to meet and collaborate, not necessarily to produce a finished product.

A bitter Carla Mays told the Times, “To win the hackathon and then be ignored like that,” Mays said. “It was like,‘What the hell?’ “

Clinton apparently has moved beyond Silicon Valley volunteers to employ a 703-member paid professional staff. Unlike Obama in the prior two election cycles, the vast majority of Clinton’s $38 million in July campaign spending went to salaries and advertising.

Clinton does have a team of several dozen full-time software engineers and data experts at her Brooklyn, New York headquarters to compensate for ignoring Silicon Valley’s best and brightest. Co-founder and editor of Epolitics.com Colin Delany commented, “If there is less enthusiasm, then you have to work harder — and I suspect that is what they’ve done.”

Vincent Harris credits Sanders’ team for implementing the best digital strategy in 2016. The Vermont Senator’s tech volunteers quickly created a massive supporter database that he could rapidly mobilized on social media. “If Bernie had won the nomination, his team would have pushed beyond what Obama did in 2012.” Harris sarcastically commented that Clinton’s campaign is just too insular to do that.

In response to inquiries by the Times, Stephanie Hannon who left Google to become Clinton’s chief technology officer, responded that Hillary was not ignoring local talent. She produced a written statement that the Clinton campaign has been “harnessing the passion of our grass-roots supporters in Silicon Valley to build tools and products that’ll help Hillary win in November.”



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