Original post 2 p.m. PT. Scroll below for commentary and to watch the live stream with us.
Donald J. Trump is, to put it gently, not well liked within the Silicon Valley tech industry — and not because it is the liberal bastion it’s often portrayed to be. Mary Meeker, Meg Whitman and other tech leaders are die-hard members of the Republican Party and plenty of those among the valley’s tech elite, including Marc Andreessen, Sean Parker and Elon Musk have given to GOP candidates in the past.
But many in tech’s top tier have been vocal about their contempt for The Donald. As of our most recent tally of Federal Election Commission data, less than 10 people up and down the San Francisco peninsula have actually donated to Trump’s campaign — and billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who will be speaking at tonight’s Republican National Convention, isn’t among them.
Thiel pledged to back Trump as a California delegate back in May and now plans to take the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena tonight to make history. Although Thiel and Trump seem to differ on several key policy issues, it’s easy to see how they might share the same core belief — that they’re using the power their money has given them to stand up to a powerful establishment.
According to several reports, Thiel is expected to say he is proud to be openly gay, a first on stage at the convention and a strange announcement, given that the GOP reaffirmed its opposition to gay marriage in its recent party platform. Thiel will also make the case against Hillary Clinton and his opposition to an expansionist military policy, favoring instead Trump’s view that the U.S. should avoid unnecessary wars.
Thiel will be the first gay man to speak at the RNC since 2000, when the openly gay Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona spoke, avoiding mention of his sexuality.
But it wasn’t too long ago that Thiel was fighting to keep information about his sexuality private. Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker over the publishing of his sex tape was quietly funded by the billionaire. Gawker’s subsidiary Valleywag outed Thiel in 2007 in a piece titled, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”
According to several reports, Thiel waged the proxy war on behalf of Hogan because he was angry at the publication for forcing him out of the closet.
Silicon Valley and Thiel seem to have come a long way since then, but has the conservative GOP? Join Kate Conger and myself as we live blog the event to find out all that and more tonight starting about 5 p.m. PT.
RNC Live Blog: