Silicon Valley is celebrating the election of Joe Biden as the next president — and sending the message that they see this race as done, no matter what Donald Trump might say.
Tech’s highest-profile figures and richest people offered their first reactions on Saturday in the aftermath of the Associated Press and the major news networks calling the race for Biden. Biden’s relationship with the tech industry will be closely watched — and could grow tense if his administration aggressively polices misconduct by Big Tech companies. But it is all smiles for now.
Implicit or explicit in a lot of the messaging from tech industry luminaries was that the race between Biden and Trump was over. Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud and other irregularities should call the outcome into question, and his first statement on the results made it clear he has no plans to concede the race. Business leaders reportedly have been talking with one another about sending a collective message that corporate America does not agree with the president.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and the world’s richest person, has had a fiery relationship with Trump, mostly revolving around Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post. On Saturday, Bezos — who did not endorse a presidential candidate — said he saw Biden’s election as a sign that “unity, empathy, and decency are not characteristics of a bygone era.”
“By voting in record numbers, the American people proved again that our democracy is strong,” he wrote on Instagram.
The next-wealthiest person in the world, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, also sent the signal that the race has concluded. Gates prides himself on staying out of the partisan fray, but he has been a sharp critic of Trump’s coronavirus response.
I look forward to working with the new administration and leaders on both sides in Congress on getting the surging pandemic under control, engaging partners around the world on issues like poverty and climate change, and addressing issues of inequality and opportunity at home.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) November 7, 2020
Sheryl Sandberg, the No. 2 at Facebook who has become an icon for many women in leadership, has long had a personal close relationship with Kamala Harris, the new vice president-elect. Sandberg was sure to portray the election as finished — “The votes are in,” she said — but also zeroed in on the history made by Harris.
“For the first time in 231 years, our next vice president will be a Black and South Asian American woman who is the daughter of immigrants,” Sandberg wrote. “There are times when America takes a big step toward creating a government that reflects the diverse country we are. Today is one of those days. I’m thinking with joy about young people across the country watching the news today and thinking, ‘Maybe I can lead this nation too.’”
As of Saturday afternoon, Sandberg’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg, had yet to weigh in. Perhaps more than any other figure in Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg has had to walk a very fine line in the Trump era as he strived to both root out misinformation while also maintaining the platform’s neutrality. Figuring out the Biden era will be a whole other challenge for Facebook’s CEO.