According to a report from Reuters, Tesla
chief Elon Musk
and his billions of dollars have backed out of FWD.us the political advocacy group co-founded by such tech luminaries as Facebook
’s Mark Zuckerberg
, Bill Gates
, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, among others. Musk did not make public his reason for leaving, but he apparently took issue with the support FWD.us gave to certain senators, at least one of whom is in favor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and oil drilling in Alaska.
The advocacy group funded ads for senators who have taken sympathetic positions to the group’s immigration reform cause, although Reuters says that the ads focused more on the politicians’ general views--such as support for the aforementioned pipeline--as opposed to the immigration issue specifically.
Elon Musk (Image credit: Reuters)
Assuming Musk the environmentalist was upset about the ads, he wasn’t alone; the Sierra Club and MoveOn.org temporarily pulled ads from Facebook in response. Yammer founder David Sacks also stepped away from FWD.us, and like Musk, he gave no public reason for doing so.
There’s a new wave of tech moguls who wield a certain gravitas--celebrity, even--that makes us sit up and pay attention when they have a cause they want to pursue. Bill Gates is the prototype tech mogul activist, a man who has done as much as anyone to talk billionaires into giving away much of their money to world causes, but there’s a clear trend developing.
It’s a wonderful, powerful trend, and these people are doing tremendously important work in a variety of areas and can use both their names and their own dollars to affect change. However, there’s immense difficulty and complexity when wading into political waters, as Zuckerberg and some of the other young bucks are discovering. For all the good they and their various charities and organizations are trying to do, it’s not always easy.