A local VC firm has a four letter message for Trump
CRV, a prominent Boston area venture capital firm, rejected Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy with a provocative, profane flourish Wednesday, saying the Republican nominee’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is “diametrically opposed to the core values of entrepreneurship.”
The 46-year-old firm, formerly known as Charles River Ventures, also said that it will start paying for the US visas of entrepreneurs it backs and offer immigrant entrepreneurs workspace and administrative support in its offices.
In its blog post announcing the stance, headlined “F*ck Trump,” CRV cited its own immigrant roots; five of its nine investment partners were born outside the United States. The firm’s homepage was given over to the headline in big white type against a red backdrop, with a link to its statement.
The venture capital firm also said that about half of the startups it invests in “are made up of people like us — entrepreneurs who have come to the US to create meaningful change.” The firm’s portfolio companies include well-known tech companies such as Twitter, Yammer, and Zendesk.
“Entrepreneurship begins and ends with a powerful immigrant spirit. It is about knocking down walls, moving people toward a common goal, and creating the unthinkable from scratch with small odds of winning,” the firm wrote. “That is what makes the U.S. great and what drives meaningful innovation and change.”
In an interview Wednesday, CRV general partner George Zachary said the firm was not endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or any other candidate. The partners settled on the public rebuttal of Trump after a recent meeting where all expressed opposition to the GOP nominee’s immigration positions, which have included building a wall along the Mexican border and suspending immigration and visas for people from the Middle East.
“It wasn’t really about us saying we’re Republicans or we’re Democrats, or we’re going to vote for these groups. It was that we believe in these values. We’re saying we’re against Trump because he’s saying things against immigrants,” Zachary said. “Being against immigrants is a great way to destroy Silicon Valley and a great way to destroy the US.”
CRV joins other influential voices in the tech and venture sectors opposing Trump, including entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban and Michael Moritz, chairman of Silicon Valley powerhouse Sequoia Capital. Trump has, however, landed the support of high-profile tech investor Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member who spoke at the Republican National Convention.
Ashby Monk, an institutional investment expert at Stanford University, said CRV’s post could be a savvy way for the firm to appeal to young entrepreneurs, many of whom likely share a similarly dim view of Trump’s policies.
At the same time, the firm likely faces little risk that its own investors, such as college endowment funds, would reduce their stakes in CRV because of the firm’s political stance.
“The Charles River folks will simply be able to go to the endowments and say, ‘Look, this is totally what we believe.’ But this is also a great way to win the trust of entrepreneurs who are to a great extent immigrants, and often people of color, and often politically left-leaning in places like San Francisco and Boston,” Monk said.
CRV raised a $393 million fund in 2014, the firm’s 16th fund, to invest in early-stage companies. The firm also rebranded to the shorter name and said the new fund would be the first with the majority of its investors based in the San Francisco Bay Area. General partners Izhar Armony and Jon Auerbach remained in the firm’s longtime Cambridge headquarters.