Monday, February 20, 2017

A Silicon Valley Political Fixer Is Reinventing Himself As A Trump Whisperer

A couple links for the intro.
Back in November, just after the U.S. election, the FT's Izabella Kaminska did a quick interview with Mr. Tusk. Worth one's time to watch.

And in 2015's "While the Cost of Stuff Declines, The Cost of Political Power Skyrockets":
...And why doesn't M. Andreessen accept bitcoin in payment?
Because it is not the coin of the realm he is actually interested in: The Political.

When the plebs are bought off with their $12,000/yr. guaranteed basic income (plus a smartphone) the things that will cost serious coin will be political access and law-making power.
And we're already on the way....
Here's a bonus, if interested: Silicon Valley Freakshow: "Silicon Valley’s Long History of Government Codependence".

From BuzzFeed:

A former aide to New York bigshots Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg is now advising his tech clients on how to deal with the most powerful New Yorker of them all.
It might seem crazy now, with Silicon Valley bigwigs challenging the Trump administration in protests and in court, but there was a time not long ago when many tech leaders didn’t really care about politics.

For Bradley Tusk, a political consultant who made a fortune helping Uber win important regulatory battles, finding new tech clients was a challenge, he told BuzzFeed News recently.

“There was this mentality of, ‘Oh, I went to Stanford, I was in Y Combinator, John Doerr is on my board, and once this stupid regulator sees how smart I am, they’re going to do whatever I want,’” said Tusk, an ex-aide of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he sipped a latte at a Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco.

Now, President Donald Trump is on everyone’s mind, and Tusk is highly in demand. He had built up a stable of clients well before the election, with his firm, Tusk Ventures, advising fantasy sports site FanDuel and marijuana delivery startup Eaze, among others, on issues with state and local governments. But these days, as the frenzied first weeks of the Trump administration have sown anxiety in Silicon Valley, Tusk has largely shifted his focus to Washington.

Last week, he sent a memo to clients outlining a strategy for dealing with Trump, advising them to take a deep breath and think before engaging in political protest. Taking a stand against Trump might be the right choice, Tusk said, but only if it makes business sense.

“If the business demands immediate action, that’s one thing. If it’s your conscience, that’s another,” he wrote in the memo. Pressure from the media or even from employees, he added, wouldn’t necessarily be a sufficient reason to speak out, especially if it would create other problems.

The memo came just days after Tusk’s flagship client, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, resigned from President Trump’s economic advisory council. More than 200,000 Uber customers had deleted their accounts, according to The New York Times, after the ride-hailing company was accused of trying to undermine a taxi strike over Trump’s immigration order. Uber also came under pressure from employees and drivers, many of whom are immigrants. Kalanick’s resignation from the advisory council contrasted with the decision of another tech titan, Elon Musk, to stay there.

“This is one of those cases where the symbolism and the emotion on both sides of it took everything in such an incredible direction that people like Travis, like Elon, who are pretty well intentioned, and are saying, ‘O.K., let’s see if we can help things,’ got put in a really, really impossible position,” Tusk told BuzzFeed News. “And they’re handling it in different ways. But that’s kind of why I wrote this memo.”

Tusk said Kalanick made the right decision in this case, but he expressed regret that it had to be that way. “I think Travis joined the council for the right reasons,” Tusk said. “You’re far better off affecting policy if you’re in the room.”

Tusk himself has been in the room plenty of times before, as communications director for Senator Charles Schumer, as deputy governor of Illinois, and as the manager of Michael Bloomberg’s final mayoral campaign in New York City. And he’d probably be back in the room now, had election season gone differently.

About a year ago, when his former boss Bloomberg was considering a presidential run, Tusk was meeting with Silicon Valley leaders to sketch out a campaign plan. Bloomberg had widespread support in tech; one venture capitalist, Chamath Palihapitiya, said he would take a break from his day job to help the billionaire technocrat get elected. Tusk even discussed a plan to enlist contract workers of the “sharing economy” as foot soldiers of the campaign.

This might have involved “Uber drivers taking Americans to the polls, DoorDash workers, when they’re inside someone’s building, handing out lit for us,” Tusk said. “It’s really, because people are independent contractors, saying, ‘Look, if you like Mike Bloomberg, we will pay you x amount of money — probably more than they were getting paid in their other job — to work for us.”...MORE
One more link:
"Capturing Political Alpha"