It’s well known amongst technology workers that there is a prevailing ideology within the industry. As a worker in the tech industry, it’s not uncommon for casual conversations with strangers to carry the presumption that you yourself are very left-leaning in terms of your political views. This is especially true at the geographical heart of the technology industry, Silicon Valley. There, the situation has degraded so much that Peter Thiel, one of the world’s most renowned venture capitalists and an outspoken Trump supporter, made the decision to relocate his residence, Thiel Capital, and the Thiel Foundation to a new headquarters in L.A.
When one sees Los Angeles as an escape from liberal politics, it starts to become reasonable to think there might be a problem.
There is also other evidence for a bias against conservatives and libertarians in the technology industry. For example, lawsuits against Google have revealed managers admitting to discounting conservative employees from transfers or promotions through messages on an internal forum. This alone is alarming.
While Twitter has officially denied the intentional shadow-banning, or limiting of the amount of exposure a user’s content receives without the user having any way of knowing this is happening, leaked video of former and current Twitter employees seems to indicate otherwise. Regardless, the official statement given by Twitter’s CEO came with admission that Twitter did indeed have a left-leaning bias.
Whether or not the allegations of Twitter shadow-banning are true, the popularity of these claims show a gigantic downside of a monolithic culture: people are becoming distrusting of the technology industry.
The industry is also losing talent because of its lack of political diversity. In a 2018 survey conducted by the Lincoln Network entitled “The Viewpoint Diversity and Cultural Norms in Silicon Valley,” 37 percent of respondents who identified as Libertarian, 36 percent of respondents who identified as Conservatives, and 59 percent of respondents who identified as Very Conservative agreed with the statement: “I know someone who did not pursue or left a career in tech because of perceived conflicts in viewpoints.”
While it may be too late for Silicon Valley to begin championing or even accepting political diversity, it’s not too late for the rest of the industry. Silicon Valley is losing its primacy, and investment is beginning to flow outward.
That being said, Silicon Valley — still being the center of all things technology — has massive influence over other technology hubs, including Texas’ own capital city.
Years ago, my co-founder at the Freedom in Tech Alliance wanted to host a meetup, “Austin Christian Technologists and Entrepreneurs,” at WeWork but was rejected because it was “religiously affiliated.” All the while, WeWork did not have a problem hosting meetup of non-Christian religious groups. He was also rejected when approaching Google Fiber in downtown Austin about use of their space. Google Fiber advertises the same free and open use policy for its event space for meetups as WeWork does, yet both spaces declined to accept the meetup.
Preventing the technology industry as a whole from becoming a monolith like Silicon Valley is essential for the public to retain trust in our industry, and for keeping and recruiting valuable talent.
This is why I founded the Freedom in Technology Alliance. We aim to affect the culture by encouraging open political dialogue and espousing the ideals of diversity of thought and freedom of speech.
On Thursday, January 10, 2019, we are hosting our launch event, where the famous Dr. Bob Metcalfe — inventor of Ethernet, founder of the billion-dollar company, 3Com, and the man behind the term “Metcalfe’s law” — will talk about policy, the culture of Silicon Valley, and how it relates to technology.
If you’re in Austin, Texas and interested in learning more about how a political monolith hurts the technology industry, we welcome you to come and learn more.
You can get your free ticket here: fita.eventbrite.com
This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to the Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected].