SAN FRANCISCO — The day after President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of inciting violence, to “stand back and stand by,” during the first presidential debate last month, tech investor Cyan Banister tweeted that the group had “a few bad apples. “
The open defense of an organization that has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center is one extreme example of an increasingly public reactionary streak in Silicon Valley that diverges from the tech industry’s image as a bastion of liberalism. Some libertarian, centrist, and right-leaning Silicon Valley investors and executives, who wield outsize influence, power and access to capital, describe tech culture as under siege by activist employees pushing a social justice agenda.
Curtis Yarvin, dubbed a “favorite philosopher of the alt-right” by the Verge, has become a familiar face on the invite-only audio social network Clubhouse, in rooms with investors such as Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, the founder of Andreessen Horowitz, which invested in the app.
Cryptocurrency startup Coinbase recently sought to restrict political speech by employees, a move many interpreted as a return to the company’s more libertarian roots because it came in reaction to internal discussions of Black Lives Matter.
Tensions are running high even at some of the biggest tech companies. The crackdown on employee speech in response to social activism over the past year has spread to Facebook, Google and Pinterest, among others.
In September, Facebook restricted spaces for political discussions after employees protested the company’s moderation policies against hate speech affecting Black users. Pinterest shut down a Slack channel used to submit questions for company meetings and turned another Slack channel read-only, opting to use a different tool for up-voting. Employees, who had used both channels to question leadership about