Sam Altman wants to see a tech leader in the California governor’s seat in 2018. And the Silicon Valley investor has a few friends in mind.
Speaking before a crowd at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on April 14, Altman, president of the valley’s largest startup accelerator, Y Combinator, said he’s been encouraging “a number of people, unsuccessfully” to run in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
“I think you would be good at this,” Altman has told tech leaders over dinner, “and you seem kind of bored in your job.”
Altman declined to name names, and added that he has no takers. According to Altman, the people he’s spoken to look at the current political climate and say, “I have this great job running this really successful tech company, I’m going to stay as far away from that as I can.”
California, which handed Hillary Clinton almost double the number of ballots cast for Trump in the 2016 election, has challenged the president on issues ranging from environmental regulations to sanctuary cities. Governor Jerry Brown has emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal opponents.
In February, 97 major tech companies filed a joint amicus brief in opposition to Trump’s temporary immigration ban. Bay Area-based companies like Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Google (which all signed the legal document) share a strong interest in immigration policy because they employ so many foreign workers.
Now Altman wants to see a techie lead the charge against Trump.
“I think that the California governor is an interesting position in terms of someone that can oppose Trump. It’s a very powerful counterweight,” he said.
On stage at the Commonwealth Club’s event, Altman — who has been increasingly involved in politics and recently launched a basic income experiment in Oakland, California, that gives roughly 100 families $US2,000 a month to live on — explained that a tech leader would be an interesting governor pick because that person has experience creating jobs and wealth.
But don’t count on the YC president to make a run of it.
“I don’t think charisma is my strength, let’s say that,” he said.