Tom Perkins, the founder of one of Silicon valley’s most venerable venture capitalist funds, has again suggested that people who criticise the wealth inequality between those working in the tech industry and those who don’t are akin to Nazis.
In an email to Bloomberg published today, he wrote that critics of gentrification and the generously well-funded tech startups that drive it are just like German fascists during the early 20th Century: “In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization.”
Perkins is one of the fabulously wealthy founders of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Kleiner Perkins has backed AOL, Amazon, Citrix, Compaq, EA, Google, Intuit, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, WebMD and Zynga, among dozens of other companies. Its most currently famous analyst is Mary Meeker, whose annual “internet trends” slideshow is one of the highlights of the tech calendar.
However, Perkins is also 82 years old, and a spokesperson distanced the firm from him in a tweet: “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB for years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.” Perkins and KPCB now appear to have fundamentally split from each other.
Bloomberg apparently asked him to elaborate on his letter to the Wall Street Journal, in which he suggested that liberals might enact a progressive “Kristallnacht” against the 1%. Here’s what happened next, according to Bloomberg:
Perkins said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News that he was “shocked” at the actions of the Occupy movement, referring to the 2011 protests that began in New York led by the group Occupy Wall Street. Demonstrators in San Francisco broke windows at luxury car dealerships and at Wells Fargo & Co., yet the press “focuses its wrath on the 1 per cent,” he wrote.
“In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization,” Perkins wrote in the e-mail.
As for his former firm’s reaction to his comments in the Wall Street Journal, Perkins said “our philosophies and strategies have drifted so far apart that now my name means little on the door.”
To give you an idea of why Perkins might be so worried about the fate of the 1 per cent, consider this old Wall Street Journal story from 2008, about his 289-foot, $US150 million super-yacht. As soon as he was finished building the Maltese Falcon, he put it up for sale. He wanted to get into “‘sports’ submarines” instead, he said.
Here’s a look at that amazing boat: