BOULDER — The outgoing dean of the law school at the University of Colorado Boulder and the co-founder of a Boulder-based technology accelerator are among 145 tech-industry chief executives and others who have signed an open letter describing the damage they say a Donald Trump presidency would do to the U.S. economy.
Phil Weiser, who had served five years as CU law school dean and heads the school’s Silicon Flatirons Center, and Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld, who co-founded the Techstars accelerator that works to nurture technology startups across the area, nation and world, signed the letter detailing their opposition to Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Also signing the letter were Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, along with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, CEOs of companies including Tumblr, Yelp, Slack and Qualcomm Inc., a pair of former Google executives and scores of other “inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector.”
Originally published Thursday on Medium.com, the letter quickly was reposted across other tech-related websites including Wired.com, MarketWatch and others. Fifty-two of the signers were listed as CEOs and 83 as founders or co-founders.
“We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership,” the letter opened. “We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline.
“We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.”
Reflecting an industry that taps India and Asia for much of its talent, the signers wrote that “America’s diversity is our strength. Great ideas come from all parts of society, and we should champion that broad-based creative potential. We also believe that progressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth — scientists, entrepreneurs, and creators. In fact, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Donald Trump, meanwhile, traffics in ethnic and racial stereotypes, repeatedly insults women, and is openly hostile to immigration. He has promised a wall, mass deportations, and profiling.”
Trump has called for policies that offer more incentives for companies to hire Americans instead of luring labor from other countries.
“We also believe in the free and open exchange of ideas, including over the Internet, as a seed from which innovation springs,” the letter continued. “Donald Trump proposes ‘shutting down’ parts of the Internet as a security strategy — demonstrating both poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works. His penchant to censor extends to revoking press credentials and threatening to punish media platforms that criticize him.
“Finally, we believe that government plays an important role in the technology economy by investing in infrastructure, education and scientific research. Donald Trump articulates few policies beyond erratic and contradictory pronouncements. His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America. He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation.”
Although not endorsing Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton or any other presidential candidate by name, the letter concluded that “we stand against Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and want a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America’s technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity, public investments in research and infrastructure, and respect for the rule of law. We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership.”
A disclaimer added to the letter stressed that its signers were acting in a personal capacity and were not speaking on behalf of any organization, corporation or entity to which they are affiliated.
The letter also does not purport to represent the entire technology industry. In fact, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is on a list announced Thursday of people who are scheduled to address next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, at which Trump will be officially nominated.
“Many people are uncertain in this election year, but most Americans agree that our country is on the wrong track,” said Thiel in a statement quoted in the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly. That is why I am going to speak in Cleveland, and that is why I will support the Republican nominee.”