Home Tech How J.D. Vance’s path to becoming Trump’s vice presidential nominee went through Silicon Valley

How J.D. Vance’s path to becoming Trump’s vice presidential nominee went through Silicon Valley

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How J.D. Vance's path to becoming Trump's vice presidential nominee went through Silicon Valley

IWhen J.D. Vance was a student at Yale Law School in 2011, he attended a talk given by Peter Thiel, the conservative tech billionaire. Although Vance didn’t know Thiel at the time, over the next decade he would become his employee, friend, and beneficiary of his largesse. Thiel’s millions paved the way for Vance to become a senator.

Thiel’s talk was “the most significant moment of my time at Yale Law School,” Vance would write. in a 2020 essay According to Vance, Thiel’s talk about the failures of elite institutions and faith in Christianity made him reconsider his own faith and immediately make plans for a career outside of law, one that would span the worlds of technology and venture capital before politics.

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While Vance is best known for his origin story, which he recounted in his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, in the years after graduating from Yale he developed extensive ties to Silicon Valley investors and elites. His experience as a venture capitalist, coupled with his status as a rags-to-riches media figure, helped him make connections critical to his political rise, as well as secure influential supporters who pushed Trump to make him his vice presidential nominee.

Following a brief stint working in corporate law after graduating from Yale, Vance moved to San Francisco and landed a job at Thiel’s venture capital firm Mithril Capital in 2015. After Hillbilly Elegy became a bestseller in 2016 and catapulted him to national prominence, Vance joined the venture capital firm Revolution, founded by former AOL CEO Steve Case.

Vance remained a part of the tech venture capital world after returning to Ohio and Leaving the revolution In early 2020, he received financial backing from Thiel to co-found the venture capital firm Narya Capital, which, like Thiel’s companies, was named after an object from “The Lord of the Rings,” this time a power ring made for elves. Other prominent investors in Narya included Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google, and Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist who announced his own endorsement of Trump last week. The stated goal of Vance’s firm was to invest in early-stage startups in cities that Silicon Valley tended to overlook.

In 2021, Narya Capital led a group of conservative investors, including Thiel, to put money into Rumble, the video streaming platform that positions itself as a less moderate, more right-wing version of YouTube. Vance’s co-founder at Narya, Colin Greenspon, touted the investment as a challenge to Big Tech’s control over online services, a frequent conservative talking point during the backlash to content moderation around the pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. It was also around this time that Thiel, who strongly supported Trump financially during the 2016 campaign, brought Vance to speak with Trump for the first time during a secret meeting at Mar-a-Lago in February 2021. According to the New York Times.

Vance’s long association with Thiel also proved lucrative during his 2022 senatorial campaign. Thiel invested a staggering $15 million in Vance’s campaign and, According to the Washington Posthelped secure Trump’s endorsement, leading Vance to win a hotly contested Republican primary and then the Senate election.

While Thiel has vowed in recent years not to donate to the 2024 election, Vance has since played up his other Silicon Valley connections to curry favor with Trump. The Ohio senator introduced David Sacks, a prominent venture capitalist, to Donald Trump Jr. in March. The New York Times reportedand attended Sacks’ pro-Trump fundraiser in June, co-hosted by Chamath Palihapitiya, Sacks’ co-host on the popular podcast All In. The event, which cost as much as $300,000, was held at Sacks’ San Francisco mansion, and at it the investor thanked Vance for his help in making the fundraiser happen. During a casual conversation at dinner, Sacks and Palihapitiya He told Trump nominate Vance as his choice for vice president.

Sacks spoke at the Republican national convention on Monday. In the days leading up to it, he had also called on Trump to defend Vance as a vice presidential candidate, as had Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host. According to AxiosThiel also expressed support for Vance in private calls with Trump, the New York Times reported. When Trump confirmed Vance would be his running mate, Sacks and Musk posted fawning celebrations on Twitter, with Musk saying the candidacy “rings with victory.”

Many of the wealthy tech elite and venture capitalists who back Vance now appear to be preparing to offer even more tangible support. Investors including Musk, Andreessen and Thiel’s Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale are All as reported planning to donate huge sums of money to support the Trump and Vance campaigns.

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