While other 2020 Democrats are maligning the influence of big tech, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is turning to Silicon Valley to help power his campaign.
The former mayor, who polls show is quickly gaining traction in his bid for the Democrat nomination, held a private conference with hundreds of tech leaders on Monday. During the discussion, which was first reported by Recode, Bloomberg’s team asked the tech leaders to refer their best and brightest. Bloomberg’s campaign is specifically looking for individuals to help build out its “data science, internet marketing, advertising buying, and analytics” infrastructure.
Since announcing his candidacy, the former mayor has undertaken a serious effort to court Silicon Valley leaders. Last month, Bloomberg held a closed door meeting with some of the biggest names from the tech industry in San Francisco, California. Listed among the guest list was LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Despite being billed as a simple “gathering of community and business leaders,” the meeting was in reality a pitch-session for why big tech should back the former mayor.
The courting effort has been helped by the former Silicon Valley executives already holding senior positions with Bloomberg’s campaign. Gary Briggs, the former chief marketing officer of Facebook, is helping lead the campaign’s digital advertising arm. Joining him in that effort is Jeff Glueck, the former chief executive officer of Foursquare.
Bloomberg’s embrace of big tech stands in stark contrast to the tough tone that the former mayor’s Democrat rivals have taken on the issue. Most notably, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are running hard on their advocacy for breaking up Silicon Valley behemoths, like Facebook and Amazon. Warren, in particular, has released a multi-faceted plan for how to bring the tech giants to heel while simultaneously restoring competition to the gig economy.
“We need to stop big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and [using their] power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor,” Warren told Vox in December. “That means breaking up Big Tech.”
Bloomberg, however, does not seem to agree. The former mayor has not only signaled his opposition to taking a firm stand against tech companies, but he’s also lambasted progressives like Sanders and Warren for favoring a heavy-handed approach on the topic.
“Breaking things up just to be nasty is not an answer,” Bloomberg said during a recent campaign swing through California. “You’ve got to have a good reason and how it would work, and I don’t hear that from anybody, the senator or anybody else.”
“I don’t think [Sanders and Warren] know what they’re talking about,” the former mayor added.