Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Sam Altman is putting his money where his mouth is: politics.
The president of tech incubator Y Combinator is looking for a few good candidates to run in the 2018 California elections, and he’s willing to help fund their campaigns, he announced this week.
“I want to help candidates who believe in creating prosperity through technology, economic fairness, and maintaining personal liberty,” Altman says on The United Slate, a website he has launched to describe his effort — which also includes addressing California’s housing crisis.
Altman has been talking politics and policy a lot lately: He is already funding a basic-income experiment in Oakland. He has likened Donald Trump the candidate to Hitler, backed a website that tracked President Trump’s first 100 days in office, participated in protests against Trump’s travel ban, and has called on tech companies to “take a stand” against some of the president’s actions. A registered Democrat, he has traveled around the country this year to talk to people who voted for Trump because he said he felt out of touch with those voters.
Altman, a Stanford dropout, does have this in common with Trump: He doesn’t think much of government, either.
“It rigs the system in favor of a small number of special interests and campaign donors at the cost of everyone else,” he writes. “In the process, our government has gotten us into an unsustainable financial bubble and has given up on fiscal responsibility itself. California is on a trajectory to go bankrupt.”
He says technology, which he calls his obsession, is key to our future.
“There is a massive technological shift coming to society, and we can either benefit from it or be hurt by it,” Altman says on his website.
Altman is particularly interested in candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and for the U.S. Congress, whether they are independents, Democrats or Republicans, he says. Although he flirted with the idea of running for governor himself, he seems to be more interested in finding another candidate for that job.
“I’m not satisfied with the current choices,” Altman told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t want to make this about dumping on specific people, [but] I don’t think any of the current candidates are the best we could do.”
As for housing, “I would also like to help with a California ballot initiative to address the cost of living, and particularly the cost of housing, in the state,” he says on his website, which also lists 10 policy goals. The goals relate to health care, clean energy, education, jobs, infrastructure and more.
It’s unclear how much Altman is willing to spend. He told the Washington Post he didn’t know, and “I don’t think it’s what will determine success or failure.”
Photo: Sam Altman, newly appointed president of Y Combinator, at Y Combinator in Mountain View on April 24, 2014. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)