Whether you like it or not, these tech companies are helping Donald Trump get reelected.
We often hear about the Googles, Facebooks and Twitters of the world having to walk the tightrope of right- vs left-wing politics. I decided to look a level deeper at the smaller companies that have become ubiquitous in the world of web marketing and development and who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Click the names below to see how they are helping the Trump 2020 campaign:
- HotJar (Stopped supporting the Trump-Pence campaign in Sep 2020)
There are at least a couple ways to look at this:
Who cares? It’s a free market. Tech companies - like any other - are here to create value for their investors. What better way than to get into politics (and for both major parties)? Is it their job to arbitrate what is right and wrong? Are they to be held responsible for their customers’ actions?
What happened to principles? Some of these tech companies claim to care about the climate change, diverse work environments and immigrant access to entrepreneurial tools. In the post-“Don’t Be Evil” world, have principles been completely replaced by profits?
My take: I am all for a free market and for tech companies to play by the same rules that govern any other commercial enterprise. What I object to is the incongruity. Any tech company taking a principled stand for something while its biggest customers are in direct violation of that principle needs to get real. Stop pretending you actually care.
I will put these here and let you decide, through the snark and disappointment. To comment, you can find me on Twitter.
For context, I’ve used and will continue to use all of these tools because they are some of the best on the market. You can’t blame the Trump organization for relying on them.
Stripe, the company that made online payments processing a breeze is used as the payments processor by WinRed, the GOP’s answer to Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue. Blanket adoption of WinRed was forced upon GOP candidates in 2019. It is no surprise to see that the platform has quickly grown. There is reason to believe that a $30 million investment by Jared Kushner’s brother in 2014 could have something to do with the push for widespread adoption.
So what? Stripe claims to care about the environment. They have an entire webpage dedicated to making the case for climate change and detailing how they painstakingly became a carbon-neutral company.
From Stripe.com/environment: As a result of growing greenhouse gas emissions, climate models predict that our planet will get significantly warmer, that ecosystems will be changed or destroyed, and that enormous human and economic costs will be incurred. These scenarios aren’t guaranteed, but avoiding them will be very hard. At Stripe, we’re trying to take small steps to mitigate our impact.
My questions for Stripe are:
- How will you carbon offset the fact that you are facilitating the election of climate change deniers?
- Will you re-invest profits from WinRed to lobby for environmental protection or financing of pro-environment candidates?
Shopify, the easy-to-use ecommerce platform, powers the Official Trump Store.
So what? Shopify say things like, “Together, we’re changing the face of capitalism for good.“ It’s vague enough of a principle that their client roster can’t be considered incongruous. Also, they present a vision of “anyone, anywhere” starting an ecommerce site, which would mean any politican, including one that supports the separation of immigrant mothers from their children, should be able to do so.
Optimizely, one of the world’s most advanced A/B testing tools and a long-time favorite tool of mine is used to test more effective ways to hit fundraising targets on the Donald Trump 2020 website.
So what? As far as I can tell, Optimizely is not proclaiming that they want to make the world a better place or save the polar bears: they are not being incongruous by allowing the Trump campaign to freely use their tool or services. The association with Trump becomes paradoxical only in light of the Optimizely origin story: the tool was conceived by Dan Siroker while he was head of analytics for the Obama 2008 campaign.
My favorite French startup Algolia, has found itself as the site search engine for PromisesKept.com.
So what? Who cares? They are not pretending to save the world. Business as usual.
HotJarStopped supporting the Trump-Pence campaign in Sep 2020.
HotJar, the affordable and easy-to-use interaction recording tool was helping the Trump campaign (on WinRed pages) optimize its fundraising funnel. HotJar creates session recordings that can be played back to find usability issues. The tool also creates click, scroll, and various interaction visualizations.
So what? It was great to see HotJar uphold its core values and stop supporting the Trump campaign. They walked the walk and probably got a lot of heat for it, but what's the point of having core values if revenue is your only driver?
Workable (Notable Mention)
Workable, the applicant management platform, is making it easier for WinRed to hire more people.
So what? Got nothing: hire away!
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