One evening in May, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her husband attended an expensive dinner. Other guests included billionaire Sean Parker, SV Angel’s Ron Conway, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Twitter board member Peter Fenton, and other powerful technology executives.
Each plate of food cost $US2,600. The dinner was a fundraiser for a man named Ro Khanna who is running for congress.
Khanna is a democratic, intellectual property attorney who is all of 37. Silicon Valley is hoping he can help it conquer the final frontier: Washington, D.C.
“We feel for a long time that Silicon Valley hasn’t been represented at a federal level,” Sean Parker told the crowd. “We’re coming to a realisation of our own power and capability, not just as innovators but also in a political sense.”
Currently, the polls favour Khanna’s competition, Mike Honda, who is nearly twice his age. But Khanna’s campaign has much more financial support than Honda’s, with nearly $US2 million raised.
In a long profile about Khanna’s congressional mission, Salon’s Andrew Leonard likens the author and attorney to the investors who have backed him.
“With ample evidence that government is broken, the Valley wants someone in Congress who believes that politics is as amenable to fixing as a start-up’s busted business plan,” Leonard writes. “If you think of Ro Khanna as the representative of an impatient group of investors who demand better performance for their tax dollar, you won’t be far off. The venture capitalists want to bring in a new CEO.”
Khanna supports both tax reform and immigration reform, two hot topics in Silicon Valley right now.
“It’s not just about having a tech agenda,” Khanna told the powerful crowd of millionaires and billionaires at his dinner fundraiser. “This is about something much deeper — our values, and our ability to use those values to change Washington and the world.”
For more on Silicon Valley’s favoured candidate, head over to Salon.