Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had a slow fundraising start in Silicon Valley. In the June lead-up to the final state primaries, Trump had raised very few dollars in the region that’s typically lucrative for political contenders. A TechCrunch analysis of Federal Election Commission data found that Trump had only raised a paltry $30,556 from donors in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and even Peter Thiel, one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in tech, has declined to financially back his campaign.
But the tide is turning for Trump as the general election draws near. Last night, private equity CEO Saul Fox of Fox, Paine & Co. hosted a fundraiser for Trump at his home in Woodside, a wealthy neighborhood near the headquarters of Google, Facebook and other major companies.
It’s not quite a sign that Trump has finally cracked the seal on Silicon Valley — private equity investors aren’t as involved in the tech scene as their venture capital counterparts — but the $25,000-per-person dinner is Trump’s first successful fundraising effort in the Bay Area. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich planned a fundraiser for Trump in May, but cancelled the event after facing backlash. (Krzanich is known for his efforts to diversify the tech workforce, a position widely perceived to be at odds with Trump’s stance on immigration.)
Fox, a frequent donor to conservative candidates and causes, began donating to Trump’s campaign recently when it became apparent that Trump would become the Republican Party’s nominee. During the primary season, Fox backed Trump opponents Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. He also made donations to Lawrence Lessig, the Creative Commons founder and internet pioneer who ran a short-lived presidential campaign last fall.
But on June 7, the day of the California presidential primary, Fox’s loyalties appear to have shifted: He gave $25,000 to the Trump campaign and an additional $19,600 to the Republican National Committee, according to FEC data. RNC spokesperson Lindsey Walters confirmed that last night’s Fox fundraiser would benefit Trump’s campaign and the RNC in a statement to Politico, which first reported on the fundraiser.
Although Fox is an active donor, he seems to have drifted away from investing over the last decade. His company, Fox Paine & Co., raised its last fund in 2001 and its portfolio lists primarily exits, not new investments. TechCrunch contacted Fox for comment on the fundraiser and will update if he responds.
Trump’s fundraiser follows several weeks of fundraising in the area by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has had more success pulling donations from Silicon Valley. Clinton’s most recent trip to California may have earned her campaign as much as $18 million, according to Politico.