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Silicon Valley’s Top Trump Supporter Says ‘Difficult Task’ Lies Ahead

Peter Thiel wins in Silicon Valley.

by Ben Sullivan
Nov 9 2016, 2:42pm

Peter Thiel at the Hy! Summit. Image: Heisenberg Media/Flickr

While a din of anxiety sweeps across Silicon Valley this morning, a collective industry that threw heavyweight support behind Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, one investor has moved fast to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump.

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and one of the technology's most outspoken supporters of Trump, said via a spokesperson that it's time for the US "to face up to our country's problems" and that Trump "has an awesomely difficult task."

Thiel, who also holds a position as a director on Facebook's board, said in a statement to news agencies, "We're going to need all hands on deck."

Thiel ploughed more than $1 million into Trump's presidential campaign, sticking out like a sore thumb in a sea of Clinton supporters within the technology industry.

"Cutting off opposing viewpoints leads to extremism and will not get us the country we want,"

In October, Silicon Valley diversity project Include ended relations with startup incubator Y Combinator following its continued relations with investor Thiel. While Y Combinator boss Sam Altman acknowledged Trump is "an unacceptable threat to America," Altman refused to cut ties with Thiel. "Cutting off opposing viewpoints leads to extremism and will not get us the country we want," Altman tweeted.

Yet Thiel's support of Trump was resolute. "It's not a lack of judgement that leads Americans to vote for Trump. We're voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed," he said at the National Press Club last month.

But Trump's promises of bringing back manufacturing jobs for America's working class fail to acknowledge the role of automated manufacturing robots, a notion that has been widely acknowledged (and created) by Silicon Valley but failed to permeate into any politician's rhetoric. It's for largely this reason that Thiel's support of Trump is a perplexing one.

Elsewhere overnight, worried Silicon Valley giants were obviously shocked at the snowballing Trump win. Aaron Levie, founder of cloud storage company Box, tweeted, "You know those times where we watch other countries and are like 'oh man you guys are crazy.' Shit that's us now." Co-founder of Flickr and Slack boss Stewart Butterfield let off an ominous "Welp", and Mike Dudas, co-founder of mobile app connector Button and ex-Google employee said, "Donald Trump is one of the 10 worst human beings on the face of the Earth. This is not an exaggeration. This is the dangerous truth."

Perhaps one of the most jarring comments made by Silicon Valley in response to Trump's win was made by Hyperloop One executive and investor Shervin Pishevar, who tweeted:

With aggressive cuts on the horizon to Chinese trade, employment visas, and alternative energy, Silicon Valley and the science and technology industry as a whole faces an uphill battle against uncertainty and rationality.

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