KTEP - El Paso, Texas

After Trump Victory, Silicon Valley Investor Dave McClure Melts Down

Nov 11, 2016
Originally published on November 11, 2016 6:06 am
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the CEOs of the largest internet companies - we're talking Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook - have congratulated President-elect Donald Trump or at least expressed openness to the new administration. But one member of the Silicon Valley elite broke rank in an unexpected and revealing outburst. NPR's Aarti Shahani has more.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Dave McClure is a celebrity investor in tech who's backed more than 1,500 startups. He was in Lisbon, Portugal, on stage at a big conference, after the election when he lost it.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONFERENCE)

DAVE MCCLURE: What is wrong with you? What is (bleep) wrong with you if you're not pissed right now?

SHAHANI: McClure was really upset about Trump winning. And in his expletive-filled rage, he ended up calling on his base, that is fellow tech entrepreneurs, to take responsibility, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONFERENCE)

MCCLURE: Stand up and make a (bleep) difference.

SHAHANI: This is eye-opening. During and after the presidential campaign, there has been ongoing commentary about the failures of mainstream media to report meaningful news. In Silicon Valley, they lodged these criticisms, too, but they don't typically look inward at their role as leaders in the new media. NPR spoke with McClure on Skype after that outburst to understand what he meant exactly.

MCCLURE: Sometimes, we nerds of technology sort of don't think that the rules necessarily apply to us in the same way, but I think when you produce products that hundreds of millions of people, if not billions of people are using, we have the same responsibilities as any other person representing the Fourth Estate.

SHAHANI: The Fourth Estate, the press. This talk would be sacrilege at Facebook, where the leadership maintains they are just a platform, not responsible for what people post, even though their algorithms control what you can and cannot see. McClure, who tweets and shares a lot, says in this election cycle, the platforms failed to vet fake news. Facebook even promoted fake news into its trending category by accident. He says they failed to vet fake people, bots, and they failed to break echo chambers.

MCCLURE: I don't know if we're doing the optimal things that we can to try and connect different people on the planet with different points of view and not be so angry at each other.

SHAHANI: While McClure doesn't put all the blame on internet companies, he says their failures do result in real life costs, though he also says about his outburst...

MCCLURE: I was upset. Maybe I'm just a sore loser. Maybe that's the story.

SHAHANI: It could be this member of the Silicon Valley elite is making a timely point. It could be regular people spoke using his camp's tools and he just doesn't like the outcome. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday the platform is inherently more diverse than the major news stations of 20 years back, and the idea that fake news influenced the election is pretty crazy.

Aarti Shahani, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.