Pando

Am I unhealthily obsessed with the election?

By Sarah Lacy , written on August 19, 2016

From The Politics Desk

A few weeks ago, a Twitter follower told me he was unfollowing me because my feed had become all election all the time.

No, I get unfollowed constantly. This wasn’t too remarkable in and of itself. But -- honestly-- I had to agree. My Twitter feed has become unbearably political. I’m not sure what the point is. I’m not changing anyone’s mind on who to vote for…. Save a few friends who have recently decided not to vote third party because of just how scary the prospect of Donald Trump in charge of nuclear codes has become.

I apologized to this person, agreed with him, and admitted it simply wasn’t going to change until November.

But I also mused, “Isn’t everyone captivated by and/or horrified by this election? Twitter is the place for news and politics… I can’t be alone right?” I felt like my feed of people I was following was as election focused as mine.

So I decided to take a look and see if that was actually true.

I came up with a list of tech and investor luminaries and looked at their last 50 Tweets as compared to my last 50 Tweets. One disclaimer: I did this over the course of about a week. So it was not totally apples to apples in terms of time frame. But given how much the election dominates the news cycle and that some of these people Tweet infrequently, I think it still gives a great snapshot. Also a Tweet had to be expressly about the presidential election to count.

First off: My score. I calculated it when I got the complaint: 30/50 of my last Tweets were about the election. Ok, yeah, a lot.

The biggest shock of all:

  • Walker & Co’s Tristan Walker. I feel like I see Walker call out Trump more than most people on my feed. But his RT’s of Bevel mega-fans far overshadows Trump outrage in his feed. Score: 3/50

Those who don’t want to rock the political influence boat:

  • Apple’s Tim Cook’s score was 0/50. Also, Cook seems to Tweet mainly when there’s a tragedy. 16 out of the 56 Tweets he’s done the entire year were condolences.
  • Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s score was 0/50. She has enough trolls and haters. I get it.
  • Benchmark’s Bill Gurley’s score was 0/50. Surprising for a man who considers himself so outspoken. But less surprising when you consider the last fifty Tweets were bolstering Uber or taking cheapshots at competitors like Postmates. Don’t let the plainspoken schtick fool you: He Tweets his portfolio almost exclusively. It’s worth noting that he’s the only VC I looked at who hadn’t Tweeted a thing about it in his last 50 Tweets. Most VCs feel more emboldened than CEOs to take political shots.
  • Elon Musk’s score was 0/50. I get he’s a CEO whose companies (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity) rely on various government favors. But given his outspoken nature and staunch pro-science passions around climate change, this surprised me. This was after all a guy who publicly broke with Fwd.us over political tactics.

Shy Silicon Valley democrats:

  • Famed Kleiner Perkins VC John Doerr’s score was just 1/50. Are you kidding me? John Doerr, famed Democrat who held a dinner for Obama and techies in his house? John Doerr, who arguably took Kleiner Perkins down the wrong path by believing so fervently in the disaster of climate change? Doerr is as quintessential Silicon Valley Democrat as Peter Thiel is a quintessential Silicon Valley libertarian. And he mustered one Tweet about the election.
  • Blogger and True Ventures partner Om Malik’s score was 2/50. Malik is outspoken fears no one and is an immigrant. Again, I thought he was a ringer to make me look rational and like everyone else. Not so.

Lower than expected:

  • Andreessen Horowitz’s Ben Horowitz’s score was 6/50. Horowitz describes himself as being horrified and confused by racism at a young age in his book. This man is unafraid to call out competitors in the cozy town of Menlo Park. I was surprised he’s sounded off on the election so little.
  • Valley thought leader Tim O’Reilly’s score was 6/50. O’Reilly writes about government and politics more than most and-- again -- doesn’t give a fuck who he pisses off. Again, I thought this was a ringer to make me look un-election-obsessed.  

Slightly more obsessed…

  • LinkedIn founder and VC Reid Hoffman, a public supporter of Hillary Clinton, appears to strike a good balance with a score of 13/50. Not enough to alienate the masses, but clear in his views.
  • Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster’s score was also 13/50. Frankly, I expected more anti-Trump-rabidness, but the Tweets promoting his famed Snapstorms drowned out the indignation.
  • Y-Combinator’s Paul Graham scored a 14/50-- despite apologizing for so many anti-Trump Tweets in one of the 14.
  • Andreessen Horowitz’s Marc Andreessen-- not exactly a screaming liberal-- scored 15/50.
  • Stewart Butterfield of Slack is the CEO of an up and coming company. He’s got a lot more to lose than a lot of people on this list. Still, he’s opined on the election some 17 out of his last 50 Tweets.

What about women?

  • I started to wonder if part of the disconnect boiled down to gender, a mega-pressure point on both sides of this election. Padmasree Warrior, the CEO of US for NextEv and former Cisco CTO, scored a higher than most 24/50 as both an immigrant and a woman.
  • Honestly, I thought I had one big ringer in this whole thing: Former State Department worker under Hillary Clinton who organized the whole tech industry group letter to endorse Clinton, Katie Stanton. Out of Stanton’s 50 Tweet sample size, a surprisingly low 18 were about the election. I was starting to think I did indeed have a problem…

Fellow election junkies:

  • A few of my targets scored decently high. The hilarious Box CEO Aaron Levie has not missed an excuse to poke fun at Trump with 27 of his last 50 Tweets involving the election including one trying to bait Elon Musk into making a Trump comment. (Unsuccessfully!)
  • Homebrew VC Hunter Walk who has been a one-man campaign to convince Silicon Valley to give election day as a holiday because he feels this election is so important scored lower than expected, but still higher than most at 23/50.
  • Greylock VC John Lilly tends to be one of the people in my feed whipping me up. He scored higher than most but still lower than me: 27/50.

Seriously, I’m the worst out of all of these people?

  • Ok, what about the guy who is profiting from this more than most? The guy who runs the platform that is Trump’s default and the home of one of Clinton’s best moments (“Delete your account.”)? Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey scored a 25/50.

OK does anyone on my list actually obsess about this election more than I do?


One person: Khosla Ventures VC Keith Rabois. His score was 44/50. We don’t always say this here at Pando, but God bless Keith Rabois.