Mark Zuckerburg's forays into political action aren't proving to be successful. After launching on
, Zuckerberg's lobbying group FWD.us has managed to quickly anger allies and lose support from key donors.
As the organization defines itself
"FWD.us is an organization started by key leaders in the tech community
to promote policies to keep the United States and its citizens
competitive in a global economy — including comprehensive immigration
reform and education reform."
While that idea has been quick to
garner support from techies, the reality of how that policy has come
into play has been problematic. In order to get support from key
Republicans, FWD.us has already waded into other issues, putting out TV
ads supporting the Keystone XL Pipeline
and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge much to the anger of progressives.
Former Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) commented on FWD.us' actions, saying
"Leaders in the technology community have every right to talk about how
immigration reform will benefit their businesses, but instead, FWD.us
has chosen a strategy that’s condescending to voters and
counterproductive to the cause of reform."
The former senator was part of a broader coalition
of progressive organizers including Progressives United, MoveOn.Org,
Democracy for America, CREDO, Daily Kos, The Sierra Club, The League of
Conservation Voters, 350.org, and Presente.org. Although many of these
organizations are allied with the cause of immigration reform, they have
had their interested hurt by FWD.us's organizing tactics.
Even some FWD.us donors have left the cause, including Elon Musk and David Sacks. Musk said regarding his departure
"I agreed to support Fwd.us because there is a genuine need to reform
immigration. However, this should not be done at the expense of other
important causes. I have spent a lot of time fighting far larger
lobbying organizations in D.C. and believe that the right way to win on a
cause is to argue the merits of that cause."
In its blatant
support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, FWD.us illustrates that Silicon
Valley successes are not always the best qualified when it comes to
policy, as they managed to not only divide both progressives and their
own donors within a month of launch, but did so for a cause that the
scientific community is largely against, despite FWD.us's lip service to
In addition, the demographics of FWD.us
illustrate that the Silicon Valley idea of a diverse group is rather
stereotypically male-dominated. Out of their 13 listed founders
there is only one woman. Our of their 23 listed supporters, there are
only four women. Despite that obvious gender gap they describe
themselves as, "A diverse group of leading innovators, job creators,
business owners, and founders from the tech community."
Silicon Valley loves to talk about a meritocracy where the best product
or solution wins, FWD.us looks much more like an old boys club engaging
in politics as usual, and much less like an innovative solution to a
tough political problem. While they repeatedly state on their Facebook page
that the "the tech community is uniting around immigration reform,"
they lack policy specifics, can't boast any type of coalition work
outside the tech community, and speak in generalities that don't
indicate where they stand on rights for undocumented students (some of
whom studied in the STEM fields FWD.us also supports), bi-national LGBT
couples, the low income workers who support our food industry (techies
gotta eat too, right?), families of immigrants (does that engineer have a
mom who wants to live closer?), and more.
Maybe FWD.us will internalize these lessons and pivot to a better strategy
like many of their supporters' companies, but if not Mark Zuckerburg's
current work in the political arena seems to be causing more problems
than it's fixing.