The tech heavyweights pouring cash into the election battle

SACRAMENTO — As money from donors pours into California’s recall election, tech millionaires and billionaires have been at the front of the line writing five-, six- and even seven-figure checks to help influence the outcome of the contest.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s fighting to keep his job in the Sept. 14 vote, has drawn the bulk of Silicon Valley’s money. The governor, a Democrat who’s long been cozy with big tech, has dominated fundraising overall, raking in more than $30.9 million for his recall defense committee.

But Newsom isn’t the only candidate drawing tech dollars. Rivals Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego mayor, and Caitlyn Jenner, the reality TV star and Olympic medalist, have also attracted the support of tech executives who’ve complained that California is unfriendly to business.

Here are 15 prominent tech figures who have waded into the race with their wallets. The list and amounts include donations to both 2021 and 2022 candidate committees, as well as outside political committees.

Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo CEO

Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo CEO

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Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo CEO

Amount: $200,000 for Newsom

Known for: Mayer was the chief executive officer of Yahoo, the online search engine, for five years, until the company was bought by Verizon in 2017. She was previously a vice president at Google, where she started as one of the company’s first female engineers in 1999. Mayer, who lives in San Francisco, now leads Sunshine, a startup that specializes in contact-management apps.

Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman

Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman

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Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman

Amount: $32,400 for Jenner

Known for: Ellison co-founded Oracle, the giant seller of business and cloud management software. He ran the company for 37 years before leaving his post as CEO in 2014, and remains chairman of the board. Ellison’s net worth is estimated at $111.5 billion, making him the seventh richest person in America, according to Forbes. He has often supported Republican candidates, and last year hosted a fundraiser for former President Donald Trump at his estate near Palm Springs. Outside of tech, Ellison has amassed a vast portfolio of real estate. He owns nearly the entirely of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, which he hopes to turn into a health and sustainability “utopia.”

Sean Parker, former Facebook president

Sean Parker, former Facebook president

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Sean Parker, former Facebook president

Amount: $64,800 for Newsom

Known for: Parker rose to national fame at age 19, when he co-founded Napster, the free file-sharing site that upended the music industry. Napster folded under legal pressure amid copyright suits. But Parker soon reemerged as the founding president of Facebook. He left the social media company after he was arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession, though he was not charged. Parker has since invested in a host of tech startups, and accumulated a net worth estimated at $2.7 billion, according to Forbes. He has been a prolific contributor to the Democratic party.

Jeff Skoll, former eBay executive

Jeff Skoll, former eBay executive

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Jeff Skoll, former eBay executive

Amount: $33,400 for Newsom

Known for: Skoll helped launch eBay, the online auction site and marketplace, in 1995 as the company’s first president. He later became vice president when Meg Whitman led the company, before leaving eBay in 2001. Since quitting the tech industry, he has focused on philanthropy and film production. Skoll’s company, Participant Media, has produced a host of films, including hits such as “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Lincoln,” “Spotlight” and “The Help.” His net worth is estimated at $6.8 billion, according to Forbes.

John Chambers, former Cisco CEO

John Chambers, former Cisco CEO

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John Chambers, former Cisco CEO

Amount: $57,400 for Faulconer

Known for: Chambers spent about two decades as CEO of Cisco Systems, the San Jose maker of networking and communications equipment whose products underpin the Internet. He left the CEO role in 2015, and now runs JC2 Ventures, a venture capital firm. Thought he leans right, Chambers has supported a mix of Republicans and Democrats over the years. He has said California has created a hostile environment for tech. “Our regulations are non-competitive; our cost of living is non-competitive; our tax structure is the worst in the nation,” he told the tech news site Protocol.

Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki, Yahoo co-founder, philanthropist

Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki, Yahoo co-founder, philanthropist

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Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki, Yahoo co-founder, philanthropist

Amount: $129,600 for Newsom

Known for: Yang co-founded Yahoo, the once ubiquitous web portal and search engine, in 1995 after he dropped out of a Ph.D. program for engineering at Stanford. He later served as the company’s CEO from 2007 to 2009, and was pivotal in leading its investments in Asia. Yang is now founding partner at AME Cloud Ventures, a venture capital firm. His net worth is estimated at $2.4 billion, according to Forbes. Yang and his wife have given heavily to various causes, including $25 million to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. Yamazaki was the museum’s board chair for six years.

Chamath Palihapitiya, venture capitalist

Chamath Palihapitiya, venture capitalist

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Chamath Palihapitiya, venture capitalist

Amount: $100,000 for for pro-recall committee, Rescue California

Known for: Palihapitiya is the CEO and founder of Social Capital, a venture capital firm, and he was earlier a top executive at Facebook, from 2007 to 2011. Last spring, he said he might run against Newsom in the recall, sparking a frenzy of online speculation. But he quickly backed off that idea, telling The Chronicle, “Let’s be really honest. I’m not ready to do any of that.” He has contributed about $1.3 million to candidates, mostly Democrats, over the last decade, but now says “California is a mess.”

Ron Conway, venture capitalist

Ron Conway, venture capitalist

Noah Berger/Special to The Chronicle

Ron Conway, venture capitalist

Amount: $200,000 for Newsom

Known for: Conway is one of Silicon Valley’s better-known venture capitalists and founded the firm SV Angel. His seed investments have helped launch a host of successful companies, including Google, Airbnb, DoorDash, Square and Pinterest. He has given heavily to Democratic candidates and groups across the country, including often wading into San Francisco city races.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

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Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

Amount: $100,000 for Newsom

Known for: Schmidt had a long Silicon Valley career in top positions at Sun Microsystems and Novell before signing on to run Google. During his tenure as CEO from 2001 to 2011, he grew the company from startup to global tech behemoth, cementing its position as the world’s most popular search engine. Schmidt later served as executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. His net worth is estimated at $26.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Schmidt has given heavily to both Republican and Democratic campaigns and causes.

Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder

Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder

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Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder

Amount: $50,000 for Newsom

Known for: Williams, also know as Ev, helped found Twitter, the microblogging site, in 2007, and later spent about two years as the company’s CEO and 12 years on its board. He also helped launch two other online publishing platforms: Blogger and Medium, where he is currently CEO. A prolific contributor to Democratic campaigns, Williams once apologized for Twitter’s role in propelling Trump’s presidency.

Doug Leone, venture capitalist

Doug Leone, venture capitalist

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Doug Leone and Patricia Perkins-Leone, venture capitalist, homemaker

Amount: $99,800 for pro-recall committee, Rescue California

Known for: Doug Leone is a managing partner at Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s largest venture capital firms. He has been with the firm since 1988, and oversaw its investment in cloud services companies like Rackspace and Medallia. Patricia Perkins-Leone is a homemaker, according to campaign finance reports. The couple has contributed millions to state and federal candidates over the years, primarily to Republicans, including Trump. Doug Leone’s net worth is estimated at $6.7 billion, according to Forbes.

Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, Doordash co-founders

Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, Doordash co-founders

Courtesy Doordash/

Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, Doordash co-founders

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