The U.S. presidential elections are fast approaching, and a growing number of VCs who’ve historically shied from making taking sides publicly, are tweeting, talking with reporters, and blogging about who they are backing and why. The early-stage venture firm CRV, formerly known as Charles River Ventures, is taking things a step further, having just published a tranquil little piece called “F*ck Trump” about the firm’s rejection of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s “anti-immigration statements.”
We talked with CRV general partner George Zachary earlier this morning about why it bothered.
TC: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has a strong lead over Trump in the polls. Why publish this statement right now?
GZ: It doesn’t make a difference how he’s doing in the polls. We feel strongly about the topic. Several weeks ago, we had an off-site, where we talked about strategy and where we also talked about the election. And each one of us felt offended by what Donald Trump has been saying, including what he has been saying specifically about immigrants. Your grandparents were Greek. My father came from Greece. This country was built by immigrants. It’s time for us to speak up about it.
TC: His statements have varied over time.
GZ: And they’ll continue to vary, but we have to be authentic here and speak up on behalf of the people who come to this country and build. Half the teams we’ve backed were founded by immigrants. Our nine partners come from seven countries.
TC: I was in Cleveland not long ago, where I saw much more Trump support than we see in the Bay Area. It is real. Do you risk alienating those people?
GZ: We weren’t focused on that risk, but we don’t really care bout that risk. Threatening immigrants coming in to this country — a country of refugees — is very scary to me. It would basically be cutting off the ability for new economies and industries to be built. Trump is entitled to his opinions, but I haven’t heard any other presidential candidate say the things he has, ever.
TC: Some will say, “Big deal, you published something on Medium.” Is CRV doing anything more actively to help immigrant founders?
GZ: Yes, we’ve instituted a program to pick up all the costs for the visas of our immigrant founders. We have one founder in the program right now, but that’s our policy from here on out.