The talented Mr Green: How FWD.us lost New York, Elon Musk, and the tech moral high ground | PandoDaily →
This a great article about the politics of convenience and selfishness. An excerpt (but i really recommend reading the whole thing):
The audience was eager to see meaningful immigration reform and had been encouraged byZuckerberg’s op-ed in the Washington Post announcing the formation of FWD.us, published a couple of weeks earlier. In the editorial, the Facebook CEO spoke the language of entrepreneurs. “In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country,” Zuckerberg wrote. “A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.”
The goodwill generated by Zuckerberg’s prose, however, was soon laid to waste. News had already broken about two controversial TV ads paid for by FWD.us-organizations. One, a 30-second spot in support of Alaskan Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, advocated for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Another, a one-minute spot in support of South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham, a Republican, endorsed the Keystone Pipeline, which is anathema to environmentalists. Thanks to the ads, many in the crowd that day were deeply skeptical of FWD’s approach, and what they found out from Green did nothing to ease their concerns.
Green was unapologetic about the strategy, intended to give cover to senators who might vote for comprehensive immigration reform but could consequently be at odds with their conservative constituents. Green’s message to the group was: “This is the way things get done in Washington.” He came across as pompous, said one person who attended the meeting, as if he were lecturing the techies on how politics works.
“I was surprised at how sure about their ways he was,” says Josh Miller, founder of New York-based startup Branch, who later wrote a scathing editorial about FWD.us. “In service of noble causes,” Miller wrote, “FWD.us is employing questionable lobbying techniques, misleading supporters, and not being transparent about the underlying values and long-term intentions of the organization.”
Lerer Ventures managing director Kenneth Lerer, who wasn’t at the meeting and chose not to contribute to FWD because it was giving to Republican and Democratic senators who voted against background checks on the recent gun control bill, says FWD’s “political strategy is incompetent.” The Huffington Post and NowThis News co-founder says, “Whatever they were hoping to gain with the money that they were going to spend has probably been neutralized to a great extent because of the bad press that they’ve received.”*
The meeting has not produced dividends for FWD. In theory, New York, a city of immigrants whose tech companies are hurting for talent just as much as those in California, should be as important to FWD as is Silicon Valley. It is certainly equally invested in the immigration debate, a point emphasized by the leading role New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Partnership for a New American Economy have taken in the national discussion.
FWD, however, does not enjoy widespread support in the city. Of the 36 high-profile supporters listed on its website – a list that include such luminaries as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, John Doerr, Reid Hoffman,* and Marissa Mayer – only one is based in New York: Union Square Ventures founder Fred Wilson.
New York, though, is just a symptom of a wider problem for FWD.us. A bipartisan organization that was greeted with excitement by the tech industry on its April 10 launch has lurched from misstep to misstep, despite enlisting the help of Washington political veterans from both sides of the aisle. Its early moves have alienated some of its core constituents and supporters, caused head-scratching in Washington, and resulted in questioning of just what kind of an operation FWD is running.
In a sentiment echoed by several of his peers, a well-known Silicon Valley investor who has a longstanding interest in environmental issues has said: “The FWD.us fiasco feels like a case of geeks playing fantasy baseball who then all of a sudden found themselves thrust into the major leagues. I am amazed at how poorly advised and unprepared they were.”