Another Republican who founded a small San Francisco-based startup told National Journal that he's worried potential partners and investors would be turned off by his libertarian views. Recently, it seems like all of his peers in Silicon Valley have been outspoken about their opposition to the thwarted religious liberty law in Indiana, he said. He thinks business owners should be allowed to decide whom they serve, and if they discriminate against gays, people can choose not to patronize their business. He won't discuss that view, though, or debate his left-leaning colleagues on Facebook or Twitter.
"If I were to speak out about something like that, maybe one of these companies wants to buy my company one day and the CEO is like, 'Oh, I remember this guy saying all this stuff about this thing that I really disagree with.' And that obviously could have negative effects," he said. "Getting your point across isn't worth it."
The consequences for being outed for conservative views can be dire. In a highly public controversy last year, newly-hired Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich stepped down after critics attacked his 2008 donation to support Proposition 8, the anti-same-sex marriage law in California. Eich, who declined to comment for this story, faced an internal uprising from within the Mozilla community, as well as boycotts from other tech companies, and quit after just two weeks on the job.
Though Eich's was an extreme case, some Republicans in Silicon Valley fear that if they go public, they'll face subtler, less direct repercussions. The CEO who spoke on background keeps his conservative-leaning views to himself, he said, because he doesn't want to risk people not liking him, which could hurt his job in imperceptible ways. As a leader, he needs to be able to inspire people to join and thrive in his company. If he's "contrarian," he said, he can't build the necessary camaraderie to succeed.
Matthew Del Carlo, the former president of the San Francisco Young Republicans and the COO of the California Young Republican Federation, said that transparent Republicans can have a much harder time finding work in the Bay Area. "I've had people tell me, 'If I found out that this person's a Republican, their resume's off the list.'"
Prominent Republicans do openly work in Silicon Valley, and not all of them feel stigmatized for their political views. Billionaire Paypal founder Peter Thiel is a high-profile GOP supporter who has made considerable donations to presidential contender Ted Cruz's 2012 Senate run and former congressman Ron Paul's 2012 presidential super PAC. And Sarah Pompei, who handled Romney's regional press in 2012 and now serves as Hewlett-Packard's director of corporate communications, told National Journal she's never felt denigrated for her conse
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