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The billionaire lieutenant who helps Elon Musk fight the culture war

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Sax Musk – Patrick McMullen

It took two decades for a little-known book by two Stanford graduates to make headlines.

The Diversity Myth — a revelation of campus political correctness and identity politics — barely attracted attention when it was first published in 1996.

At the time, few were interested in the authors’ argument that multiculturalism was harming education—or, in a later infamous passage, their claim that some date rape cases were actually “temptations that were later regretted.” “.

It wasn’t until 20 years later, when both authors were among the richest men in America, that their screed was seen as emblematic of the ideas of a certain kind of radical Silicon Valley dreamer.

One such author was Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech mogul who co-founded PayPal and founded the controversial data company Palantir. The other was David Sachs, another PayPal entrepreneur and close friend of Elon Musk.

As Musk tries to make his mark on the public discourse as the new owner of Twitter, Sachs is at his side as part of a tight-knit band of henchmen spearheading the billionaire’s culture wars campaign.

Sachs, 50, first encountered Musk at PayPal in the late 1990s, where he served as chief operating officer and head of product. The pair are members of the so-called “PayPal mafia” – a group of former employees of the company who have founded successful technology companies of their own.

Since then, Sachs has gained a foothold in the tech world. In 2008, he founded the social media site Yammer, which was sold to Microsoft four years later for $1.2bn (£1bn). He also founded Collin, a fast-growing podcast platform, heads the venture capital firm Craft Ventures, and co-hosts the popular All-In podcast.

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David Sachs-Alex Flynn/Bloomberg

A well-known figure in Silicon Valley, his portfolio includes investments in Facebook, Uber, Twitter, and Slack. His tech bets have netted an estimated $200 million, with the tycoon boasting a portfolio of lavish properties, including a mansion in Miami, a $23 million home in the Hollywood Hills and a $20 million home on Billionaires Row in San Francisco.

However, amid the turmoil on Twitter, the sacks are starting to make headlines. Despite his insistence that he has no official role in the social media company, the tech mogul has been tweeting about Musk’s involvement since it went public earlier this year.

Text messages that surfaced in court as part of Musk’s legal battle with Twitter showed the pair sharing online praise for the acquisition and discussing a possible investment by Sachs.

In a tweet posted in April, Sachs outlined a “checklist” for the company’s new CEO, which included “eliminating all bots,” “restoring free speech,” and “firing dysfunctional employees.” 50 pieces?)” was included. Many of these changes have already been implemented by Musk.

More recently, Sachs has defended Musk’s move to charge users for Blue Tick verification and discussed the idea of ​​forcing users to pay a monthly fee to continue using the platform.

But while Musk’s overhaul at Twitter drew a lot of attention, Sachs’ involvement in the project went far beyond the day-to-day running of the company. He also mans a front in the culture war waged by the richest man in the world.

At its center is an insult to the “woke” ideas espoused by West Coast liberals. This week, Musk tweeted a video of a T-shirt with the hashtag “Stay Woke” at Twitter headquarters. Sachs retweeted the post and added a Game of Thrones reference: “The conquest of the Vokrossi is complete. Melt them down and form the Iron Throne.’

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More importantly, the ideology has expanded into geopolitics. Sachs told a podcast that the invasion of Ukraine was turning into “Walking War III” and wrote an article for The American Conservative advocating an end to the conflict. Soon after, Musk criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for holding similar views.

Sachs has also been an outspoken supporter of the crypto industry, targeting the media for its coverage of the market following the dramatic collapse of FTX, an exchange run by major Democratic donor Sam Bankman-Fried.

In a tweet this week, Sachs wrote: “For years, the highbrow media has treated every successful tech startup as if it were a fraud to be exposed.

“But when the mother of all scammers really comes along, they downplay it and cover it up.”

This comment was certainly written with half an eye on Tesla, a long bet by hedge funds and attacked by critics as all spin and no substance before it became one of the world’s largest companies.

In a way, Sachs is emblematic of the ideology that underpins Musk’s inner circle, which includes Jason Calakanis, Sriram Krishnan, and his brother Kimbal, among other high-profile individuals.

Rooted in Silicon Valley libertarianism, the movement emphasizes the value of the pioneering individual over the established group. But it also takes on aspects of conservative skepticism about liberal institutions.

Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook product manager turned tech commentator, describes the movement as “a rebellion of entrepreneurial capital against the rule of the professional-management class that otherwise dominates everywhere (especially including big tech companies)”. “. He adds: “The same PMC (which also includes the media) considers this an act of lèse-majesté”.

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Central to this new philosophy is the complaint that professional risk-takers force founders to conform to a bureaucratic worldview based on values ​​that opponents consider “awake.”

Or, as Martinez puts it, Musk targets “the whole HR regimen, ESG grifters, guys with cones and mouse clicks, who are themselves rather than a parasitic burden around an organization’s neck.” regarded as a daring social crusader”.

Sachs, for his part, has remained a figure in the background with no formal ties to Twitter. However, he seems ready to push his political agenda.

Sachs has previously donated to both Democrats and Republicans, but last year he organized a fundraiser for Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been tipped to run against Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential nomination race.

A new political funding organization, the Purple Good Government PAC, was formed over the summer, according to The New Republic. Purple Good has already raised $125,000 from Sachs and his wife, and documents show that people in their network are connected to the organization.

It took a long time for Sachs’ philosophy to become mainstream. But as he writes the next chapter, it will likely be much less than 20 years before the world’s attention comes to him.

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