Dan Swinhoe (US) - US Elections pt. II: Tech Companies Funding the Romney Machine
Business Management

Dan Swinhoe (US) - US Elections pt. II: Tech Companies Funding the Romney Machine

As Silicon Valley grows in importance and influence, it's inevitable that technology companies become embroiled in politics, and at this time of year it's time to nail your colours to the mast and get behind your Presidential candidate of choice. Last week we looked at the tech companies throwing their support, and wallets, behind Obama as the US elections move ever closer to their conclusion. This week we look the challenger, Mitt Romney, and his relationship with the tech industry.

The Republican and Romney's relationship with big business is well-known - financial companies are by far the biggest donators to the Mitt machine. While that doesn't mean the tech companies have abandoned him, there's still a game of catch-up to be played. According to Buzzfeed, tech-backed funding accounts for around $27 million of the incumbent's $690 million raised so far. The New York Times puts the challenger's total at $2 million for the end of August. While that is a decent improvement on the $1.7 million John McCain managed to raise in 2008, there's still a big gap.

Where Obama's biggest donators features the likes of Microsoft, Google and IBM, who all together donated upwards of a million dollars, the only tech name on Romney's list is EMC, who have altogether donated $250,000 this year. While the numbers are significantly different, this can be seen as a victory for the Republicans; the same three tech companies donated over $2 million to BO in '08 while McCain managed to gain $200,00 from telecoms company AT&T and didn't have the backing of a Super PAC to gain extra donations.

On an individual level, some tech investors do seem to be backing Romney. According to the NY Times, Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist and Facebook investor has put in over $100,000 for Romney, both this year and for his failed 2007 bid, in stark contrast with a $4,600 contribution for BO in 2008. Other Facebook backers and tech investors have said they find Romney's business background appealing.

But concerns about Romney's potential impact on the tech sector and his refusal of net neutrality have no doubt had an impact on his standing within tech industry. Meanwhile the $6.9 billion to expand high-speed wireless Internet access included in Obama's stimulus plan, backing of net neutrality, and support of tech giantss such as Google's Eric Schmidt, all play into BO's favour. Overall, it seems Romney has suffered from not putting technology as a big focus of his campaign.

2012 has been the year of the Super PAC. Obama's Priorities USA Action boasts multi-million dollar donations from Chief executive of Dreamworks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg as well as Irwin Jacobs, the founder of chipmaker Qualcomm. But Mitt's primary PAC, Restore Our Future, has also taken some big tech names into the fold. Former Dell President Kevin Rollins has donated over $350,000, while Meg Whitman, Chief of HP, has given $100,000 and software company Jenzabar Inc. has thrown in $250,000. These are some big numbers, but it's worth noting that all of these donors have links to Bain, the company where Romney made his millions.

Right now the race is too close to call. While the figures show that the tech industry ultimately stands by Obama, as they did in '08, whether their money will be as well spent is yet to be seen.

Read part I on tech companies funding Obama here.

By Dan Swinhoe, Editorial Assistant, IDG Connect

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johnrysf on October 13 2012

"Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist and Facebook investor has put in over $100,000 for Romney...Other Facebook backers and tech investors have said they find Romney's business background appealing." Would the appealing part be the part that guts a company's assets in concert with off-shoring its jobs?

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Warren on October 14 2012

Your bias in favor of Obama is so ineffectively masked it is grossly obvious.

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M. Simon on October 14 2012

You forgot to include Obama's inept foreign policy which appears to be leading us into a Middle East War. Wars are very good for technology. Not very humanitarian. But good for technology. And "net neutrality" Puhleeze. It is just another excuse for government control of information. And how about Obama's position on the upcoming ITC Meeting. You know - the one where Dictators R Us is attempting to gain control of the Internet.

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Geof on October 15 2012

All of you are pro-censorship big government "Tech" supporters...really? How does the SOPA/PIPA and overall anti-internet policies of the Obama administration equate to "Government as Partner"? you make it sound like the government is a warm fuzzy BFF instead of the shutdown monster that can never be fed. How do you seriously discuss technology and the social benefits of Government without an honest assessment of Big Brother trying to get his grubby fingers into every aspect of internet commerce. I bet Amazon won't be as happy when they get a shiny new tax or new content mandates.

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GamerFromJump on October 16 2012

President "You didn't build that" is the tech industry's choice? Really? Way to kill the theory of the rational actor.

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johnrysf on October 13 2012

"Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist and Facebook investor has put in over $100,000 for Romney...Other Facebook backers and tech investors have said they find Romney's business background appealing." Would the appealing part be the part that guts a company's assets in concert with off-shoring its jobs?

no-images

Warren on October 14 2012

Your bias in favor of Obama is so ineffectively masked it is grossly obvious.

no-images

M. Simon on October 14 2012

You forgot to include Obama's inept foreign policy which appears to be leading us into a Middle East War. Wars are very good for technology. Not very humanitarian. But good for technology. And "net neutrality" Puhleeze. It is just another excuse for government control of information. And how about Obama's position on the upcoming ITC Meeting. You know - the one where Dictators R Us is attempting to gain control of the Internet.

no-images

Geof on October 15 2012

All of you are pro-censorship big government "Tech" supporters...really? How does the SOPA/PIPA and overall anti-internet policies of the Obama administration equate to "Government as Partner"? you make it sound like the government is a warm fuzzy BFF instead of the shutdown monster that can never be fed. How do you seriously discuss technology and the social benefits of Government without an honest assessment of Big Brother trying to get his grubby fingers into every aspect of internet commerce. I bet Amazon won't be as happy when they get a shiny new tax or new content mandates.

no-images

GamerFromJump on October 16 2012

President "You didn't build that" is the tech industry's choice? Really? Way to kill the theory of the rational actor.

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