Aditya Agarwal, the newly promoted chief technology officer of Dropbox, the cloud storage company, will vote in his first U.S. election on Nov. 8. Though he’s worked for U.S. tech companies for years, it hasn’t been easy to stay abreast of the paperwork he needed to get visas and become a citizen.
“Over the course of being in the United States for the last 16 years, I have had an F-1 [student] visa, an OPT, a CPT,” he said. “I’ve had, like, four H-1Bs [a visa used for high-skilled workers, often in the technology industry]. I’ve had, like, a green-card process that took like five or six years. I’ve gone through the citizenship process.”
The process is “deeply personal for me,” he said, speaking as a newly minted American citizen about to cast a ballot, “so I’m really excited about it.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Agarwal is one of 1.8 million people nationwide employed in “computer systems design and related services,” out of 17 million employed in high-tech industries. It’s difficult to track this group’s voting behavior, but looking at campaign donations, endorsements and other political speech offers a way to understand the political impact of this key demographic. The tech industry’s role in disseminating political information through the internet gives it an outsize voice in the process; last week, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook debated whether to remove some Trump posts as hate speech.
Data compiled by Crowdpac, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign donations, shows that employees at technology companies are donating overwhelmingly to Hillary Clinton. Of the $8.1 million given by tech employees or executives, Clinton got 95 percent, or $7.7 million; Donald Trump got 4 percent, or $299,000; Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, each got less than 1 percent.
Similarly, in the Silicon Valley area, nearly 99 percent of the political donations went to Clinton, and 1 percent to Trump, according to Crowdpac.
Agarwal and his wife, Ruchi Sanghvi, a software engineer, both went to work at Facebook a year after they graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. (Sanghvi was the first female engineer hired by Facebook.) They are not just new naturalized citizens eager to vote; they are also are prominent supporters of FWD.us, a bipartisan, nonprofit lobbying group for technology industry interests. The 3-year-old group has put its energy this year behind lobbying for immigration reform, and championing the interests of H-1B visa holders as well as undocumented immigrants.
Agarwal says that lack of support for the country’s 11 million undocumented people — who are nonetheless wanted here for economic reasons — is “just morally unacceptable.” Todd Schulte, FWD’s president, said that what the group “is fighting for is an economy that doesn’t deny people opportunity and access to succeed based on a broken immigration system.” According to the Federal Election Commission’s reports, Agarwal gave the maximum $2,700 individual contribution to the Clinton campaign.
But not everyone in the technology industry feels the same way. Brad Lea, the chief executive of LightSpeed VT, which provides virtual training to large companies, is a supporter of Trump and of stricter immigration laws. He said that most of the technology industry leaders he knows personally support Trump “because he is not a politician…. He’s a businessman who knows how to negotiate.” Lea said his top issue is ending what he sees as widespread cronyism and corruption among career politicians. “When Trump gets up there and complains about the corruption and backward dealings and unfairness, that’s why I connect,” he said. “Hillary — it seems like she is 100 percent lying and making backroom deals.”
Lea is not a political donor, but remains influential as a social media maven and viral video producer with more than 59,000 Facebook likes and 69,000 Twitter followers. Like Lea, many technology executives — the new railroad barons of American industry — have a wide audience for their political views, from the speech by the billionaire founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, at the Republican National Convention to the endorsements for Clintonby several other billionaires, including Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and an investor at Greylock Partners.
The Silicon Valley region and greater Bay Area, home to so many big technology companies, are also rich soil for reaping political donations.
Ben Casnocha, an author of business books and a technology entrepreneur, said that while many technology companies have shared policy interests, they don’t yet see themselves as a political cohort, which “makes it quite hard to organize them in any sort of politically effective way.”
“Until just a few years ago, the perspective in Silicon Valley was to have nothing to do with Washington,” he said. “It’s only in the last few years that tech companies have really established a significant lobbying presence in Washington.”
Becky Tallent, the head of U.S. government relations for Dropbox and a former immigration assistant to former House Speaker John Boehner, also sees technology’s relationship to government as just starting to grow.
“There is a generational gap between the people who are running our government right now and the people who are using the technology and creating the technology,” she said.
The H-1B program, along with various post-student work visas, have been gateways into American entrepreneurship for some of America’s biggest tech companies. A 2016 report by the National Foundation for American Policy, a business-oriented research group that supports immigration, found that more than half of America’s billion-dollar startups were founded or co-founded by immigrants.
Agarwal believes a “rebel-nation streak” among technology industry founders led many to avoid dealing with government and politics. But now companies such as Facebook, where he was one of the first 20 employees, are maturing, and so is their relationship to politics. That relationship will become more important as high-tech companies create products and algorithms that are embedded in virtually every industry.
“Really, every company in the future,” he said, “is going to be some kind of tech company.”
The next iPhone will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass (er,
Gorilla Glass sandwich with other polycarbonates for being pretty
shatter resistant if dropped) with a next-generation OLED screen
(I have several sources confirming this). You pop it into a
headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone
to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC
with a Nvidia 1080 card in it. […]
The clear iPhone will put holograms on top of the real world like
Microsoft HoloLens does.
I just read the actual article that Scoble wrote (on Medium.) It's clear that he's schilling for an upcoming book and also for his EIR job. What's really disappointing are the people that are taking the article at face value. There was one good response, starting with "I believe about 3% of this is true", that takes Scoble to task for the "facts" in the article. It reads like a Montana-cabin-written manifesto (the article, not the response.)
This was supposed to be the year the Libertarian Party went mainstream. Given the two historically unpopular major party candidates and with a former governor, Gary Johnson, as their nominee, things were looking good for the Libertarians. Johnson made it onto the ballot in all 50 states. He was regularly polling in the low double digits, and his support held up after the Democratic and Republican parties’ conventions — past the point when most third-party candidates begin to fade.
Things, however, have taken a turn for the worse for Johnson. His numbers are dropping — from about 9 percent in national polls in August to 6 percent now — and he’s been overshadowed by another (and previously even more obscure) third-party candidate.
What went wrong? You could point to Johnson’s missing the debates. He has lost about 1.5 percentage points from his national poll numbers since late September (when the first debate took place). However, he may have already been on a downward trajectory before the debates took place; on Sept. 25, the day before the first debate, he had 7.3 percent, on average, in national polls, compared with 9 percent a month before. So, it’s quite possible Johnson’s numbers would have continued to dip even if he appeared on the debate stage. Johnson, of course, has committed some policy-related gaffes — not knowing basic facts about the Syrian War or being able to name a foreign leader he admires — that suggest perhaps the debates would have been rough on him.
Another plausible explanation is that Johnson was simply a “protest” choice. Perhaps many voters who said they were going to vote for him weren’t really interested in Johnson specifically but were merely voicing frustration with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton instead. There’s evidence for this. In August, when Johnson was flying high, a majority of voters had no opinion of him. In addition, many younger voters who as a group voted heavily for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary said they were going to vote for Johnson, even though Johnson and Sanders have very different ideologies. That seemed at least a little unsustainable. Indeed, as the campaign has taken shape and Sanders stumps for Clinton, Johnson’s numbers seem to be falling with young voters as Clinton’s rise.
The only real question for the rest of Johnson’s campaign is how much more ground, if any, will he lose? As long as Johnson doesn’t dip below 5 percent, he’ll qualify the Libertarian Party for federal funding in 2020. That still looks like it’s probably going to happen. And while that might not be the most glorious ending, it’s still a better ending nationally than any other third-party candidate for president since 1996.
I fell for the word of mouth marketing like other dumb college kids. "Personal freedom? Legal weed? Legal abortion? Not a Bush or Clinton? Sign me up!"
I eventually read the platform and realized the Libertarian party is for people who long for dark dystopian future of the sci-fi they read as a kid but know Republicans won't get them there fast enough, for people who want The Good Old Days before civil rights, environmental protections, etc, but without the tax rates of the 50s, and dumb college kids who heard "legalize weed" and never looked any deeper.
As many of you know, I’m a senior in Israel. As I’m sure all of you know, senior classes in Israel have trips organised by the Ministry of Education to Poland to due a tour of various labour camps, death camps, ghettos, and more. (For those who cannot go to Poland, for whatever reason, the Ministry of Education also has organised tours in Israel based mostly in Jerusalem.)
B'ezrat Hashem, I’ll be in Poland on October twenty-sixth until November first. I’ll be the first one in my family back in Poland after four members fled and the rest (ה׳ יקום דמם), were slaughtered.
So I’ve got a lot to do. I have a lot of family who were never mourned properly. I want to deliver a letter to my great-great-grandfather (murdered in Drancy), for one, and read tehillim for various others.
If anyone else has never been back to Poland, will never go, or just wants me to say a prayer for someone, please tell me their name and their mother’s name, or just their name if you can’t. I don’t know yet exactly where we will be, but tell me the place they were murdered and I will try my hardest to pray closest to that spot. When I get that information, I’ll edit this post.
I also plan (and this is mostly aimed at Jews, but Roma are more then welcome to join in) to bring a rock (or two or three or however many) from Israel to lay in Poland, so if you would like me to lay one for someone in particular, and perhaps decorate it with something (nothing too out-there I am not even a little bit a good artist), just let me know where to lay it.
So, please try your hardest to get the info to me by October twentieth, but if you see this late, stone requests are fine till the twenty-third, and I can take prayer requests until the twenty-sixth. (Possibly after. Depends on the wifi in Poland.)
If you want something not listed, just ask!! I’ll do whatever I can to get it done!!
Have a happy sweet new year everybody!!
UPDATE: We’ll essentially be going everywhere, all around Poland. So anywhere you want a prayer, stone, letter, anything!!
UPDATE AGAIN: Here’s the complete list: Warsaw Cemetery Treblinka Łódź Cemetery Radegast Train Station Chełmno The Jewish ramp Birkenau Auschwitz Izaak Synagogue Podgorze Ghetto Tarnów Zbylitowska Góra–the children’s forest Markowa Łańcut Castle Łańcut Synagogue Leżajsk Izbica Majdanek Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva Kock Kazimierz Town Square Pińczów Synagogue
I’d appreciate you reblogging this even if you don’t have family who died in the Holocaust in Poland, so that others may see it.