Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel’s $1.25 million donation to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is driving away partners from Y Combinator.
Thiel is a part-time advisor for the Silicon Valley accelerator. But Project Include, which works to improve diversity at tech companies, said today that it would no longer work with YC startups.
The group’s co-founder, Ellen Pao, wrote that Thiel’s actions were in direct conflict with her outfit’s values. “Because of his continued connection to YC, we are compelled to break off our relationship with YC.”
Founded in 2005, Y Combinator has incubated some of the biggest tech companies of the past decade, including Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe. But it refused to dissociate itself from Thiel, who took an advisory role with the organization in 2015.
In a series of tweets, YC’s president stood by Thiel. “Cutting off opposing viewpoints leads to extremism and will not get us the country we want. Diversity of opinion is painful but critical to the health of a democratic society. We can’t start purging people for political support.”
But Pao rejected the idea that Thiel’s donation could be dismissed as political speech and said while she agreed that people shouldn’t be fired for their political views, but this isn’t a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence.
“Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behaviour strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His attacks on black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish people, on women, and on others are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe.”