Silicon Valley speaks out against antisemitism

A growing number of prominent tech and business executives are signing on to a statement denouncing antisemitism amid a recent uptick in hate crimes against Jews around the country, Jewish Insider has learned. The letter, which has been circulating Silicon Valley this week, has racked up signatures from more than 150 industry leaders as of Wednesday afternoon, including Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington, ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

“As business leaders, we have a collective responsibility to stand up for the society we want,” the letter reads. “Today, we stand against antisemitism and violence against Jews. This is true regardless of your views on Israel; this is about protecting people from the injustice of antisemitism and hatred.”

The statement’s author, Jordana Stein, founder and CEO of Enrich, a peer learning company in San Francisco, said she was motivated to speak out while witnessing a surge in antisemitic attacks across the United States and Europe following the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“The point here is to make a statement and to show that these flares of violence and attacks don’t go unnoticed,” Stein, who is Jewish, said in an interview with JI on Wednesday. “That there’s a meaningful majority that cares about this issue.”

Roy Bahat, a venture capitalist who runs Bloomberg Beta, helped craft the letter before signing his name and distributing it among tech leaders. 

“Jews should stand against all hate. Jews in the U.S. have so much privilege, but not the privilege to be immune from hate directed at us,” Bahat told JI. “In the tech industry, we build the services that connect, employ and entertain us, so we have an even more solemn responsibility to stand against all forms of hate, including the long-lasting and now-flaring antisemitism here in our country.”

David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass, who also read an initial draft, agreed with that sentiment. “The tech industry is often on the forefront of social change,” he said. “It’s an industry that can have a lot of impact.”

But putting his name to the statement was also personal for Rogier. “My grandparents on one side actually met each other in a concentration camp,” he told JI. “They actually met in Auschwitz.”

“I was raised with this understanding that there is evil in the world and that people may want to kill you because of your identity,” Rogier added. “The level of antisemitism that I’ve seen in the last two or three weeks in this country is terrifying, and I wanted to help do something about it.”

The seven-paragraph letter touches on those concerns. “A violent mob macing and punching a man in New York wearing a yarmulke,” it says, listing some of the recent attacks. “Shattered synagogue windows and attacks on Jewish community centers. A group of people throwing bottles and yelling ‘die dirty Jew’ at a dinner in LA. To be too Jewish in America, or to be a Jew, is still a dangerous mark.”

“The pain and the fear around these violent attacks reverberates against the unshakable memory of the Holocaust,” the statement continues. “This horrific mass murder of Jews showed us how deep antisemitism runs, and what can happen when we allow hate against people because of their religion, race, sexuality or any other aspect of their identity.”

Other signatories include Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, the co-founders of Warby Parker; Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga; Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the actor and CEO of HitRecord.

As the letter gains traction, Stein hopes it will reverberate beyond the tech community.

“Antisemitism is an insidious form of discriminaton in that it can be below the surface,” she said, “which is why I think it’s important, when it bubbles above the surface, to be called out.”

Read the full letter below.

Tech Leaders Against Anti-Semitism

If we’re going to stand against hate in all its forms, we need to stand against anti-Semitism. Too few Americans acknowledge that anti-Semitism — prejudice against Jewish people — exists. It is an insidious and long-standing hatred. 

Yet, the events of recent weeks cannot hide the truth.  A violent mob macing and punching a man in New York wearing a yarmulke. Shattered synagogue windows and attacks on Jewish community centers. A group of people throwing bottles and yelling “die dirty Jew” at a dinner in LA. To be too Jewish in America, or to be a Jew, is still a dangerous mark. 

The pain and the fear around these violent attacks reverberates against the unshakable memory of the Holocaust. This horrific mass murder of Jews showed us how deep anti-Semitism runs, and what can happen when we allow hate against people because of their religion, race, sexuality, or any other aspect of their identity.

Jews believe in tikkun olam, the idea that we have a responsibility to repair the world. At their best, Jews stand with the oppressed, as Jews have so often been throughout history. In America, that means standing with groups of all races, genders, sexualities, religions, and creeds to oppose hate that denies our humanity.

As business leaders, we have a collective responsibility to stand up for the society we want. Today, we stand against anti-Semitism and violence against Jews. This is true regardless of your views on Israel; this is about protecting people from the injustice of anti-Semitism and hatred. 

We echo the voices of our government, who have also stood up against anti-Semitism. President Biden’s pledge against anti-Semitism, White House Director of Domestic Policy Susan Rice’s condemnation of anti-Semitic attacks, and Senators introducing an anti-Semitic hate crime act. Still, government action alone is insufficient.  

We ask you to join us in standing against anti-Semitism, and in creating a more tolerant and just society for everyone. 

Signatures:

Jordana Stein, CEO, enrich

David Rogier, CEO, MasterClass

Roy Bahat, Head of Bloomberg Beta

Alex Gurevich, Managing Director, Javelin Venture Partners

Shari Redstone, Chairman of ViacomCBS and president of National Amusements

Arianna Huffington, Co-founder Huffington Post and CEO Thrive Global

Dick Costolo, Managing Partner, 01 Advisors

Mark Pincus, Founder Chair, Zynga

Bobbi Brown, Founder, Jones Road Beauty 

Baron Davis, Former NBA Player, 

Arlan Hamilton, Founder, Backstage Capital

Neil Blumenthal, Co-CEO, Warby Parker

Dave Gilboa, Co-CEO, Warby Parker

Leslie Silverglide, CEO, Mixt Greens

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, CEO, HITRECORD

Marco Zappacosta, CEO, Thumbtack

Jessica Scorpio, Co-founder, Getaround

Anthony Goldbloom, CEO of Kaggle (a Google company)

Jared Morgenstern, COO, Raya 

Jonathan Swanson, Co-founder and Exec. Chairman of Thumbtack

Josh Becker, State Senator, former CEO Lex Machina

Jack Altman, CEO, Lattice

Guy Gal, CEO, Side

Aileen Lee, Managing Partner, Cowboy Ventures

Ted Wang, Partner, Cowboy Ventures

Jana Messerschmidt, Founding Partner, #ANGELS

Tomer Cohen, CPO, Linkedin

Leah Felder Jenner, Actress, Singer

Mike Maples, Founding Partner, Floodgate 

Somesh Dash, General Partner, IVP

Matt Ocko, Co-Managing Partner at DCVC

Karin Klein, Founding Partner, Bloomberg Beta 

Sam Lessin, The Fin Exploration Company

Ilya Fushman, Partner, Kleiner Perkins

Amit Mukherjee, Partner, NEA 

Jeremy Levine, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners

James Cham, Partner, Bloomberg Beta

Christine Tao, CEO, Sounding Board

Jomayra Herrera, Partner, Reach Capital

Mike Ghaffary, General Partner, Canvas Ventures

James Kim, Partner, Qatalyst 

Michael Hughes, Managing Director, Qatalyst

Erik Torenberg, Cofounder Village Global and Ondeck

Steve Harrick, General Partner, IVP

Eric Liaw, General Partner, IVP

Nupur Srivastava, CPO, Grand Rounds

Felicia Curcuru, CEO, Binti 

David Eckstein, CFO, Menlo Security

Dennis Phelps, General Partner, IVP

Susan Alban, Partner, Renegade Partners

Jeremy Kranz, Managing Director, GIC 

David Spector, President, ThirdLove

Jerry Dischler, VP/GM, Ads, Google

Noah Shanok, Founder, Stitcher,

Tali Rapaport, CEO, Tuck 

Adam Gross, Investor 

Clara Brenner, Managing Partner, Urban Innovation Fund

Mada Seghete, Co-founder, Branch Metrics

Dan Saper, Boundless Ventures 

Margot Langsdorf, Principal, Rich Talent Group 

Amy Saper, Partner, Accel

Josh Felser, Climactic CoFounder

Nick Soman, CEO, Decent 

Rick Yang, General Partner, NEA

Robert Lopez, SVP, Justworks

Jules Maltz, General Partner, IVP

Adam B. Struck, Founder & Managing Partner, Struck Capital

Michael Daughtery, former CSO, Angellist 

Michael Sharon, CEO, Taika

Daniel Zakowski, CEO of Ready, Set, Food

Turi Munthe, CEO, Parlia

Zach Goldstein, CEO, Thanx

Thomas Loverro, General Partner, IVP

Jonathan Triest, Partner, Ludlow Ventures

Nicole Behnam, Founder, Beyond Media

Uri Pomentraz, Venture Partner, Jackson Square Ventures 

Marc Bridge, CEO, At Present

Erik Huberman, Founder and CEO, Hawke Media

Scott Silver, VP, Engineering Google and YouTube

Tara Levy, VP, Google

Sarah Hofstetter, President, Profitero

Rabi Gupta, CEO, EvaBot Inc

Marla Kaplowitz, President & CEO, 4A’s

Lisa Mann, CMO and MD, Raines Executive Search and Talent

Brad Schneider, CEO, Nomad Data

Matt Wurst, Global Client Lead, Jellyfish

Jim Greer, CEO, Bash Video 

Michael Pollock, CEO, Intricately

Roseanne Wincek, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Renegade Partners

Aaron Cannon, VP Product, Jumpstart

Phillip Buckendorf, CEO, Airspace Intelligence

Kfir Gavrieli, Co-founder, CEO, Tieks

David Gutelius, CEO, Motiva AI

Isharna Walsh, CEO, Coral 

Sean Downey, VP, Google

Andrew Fine, Partner, Novel TMT Capital

Jonathan Keidan, Founder, Torch Capital 

Christian Oestlien, VP, Product Management, YouTube

Michelle Tandler, CEO, Life School

Allie Miller, Startups and VC, AWS

Olivier Adler, CFO, Shippo 

Bob Abbott, Partner, Norwest 

Ezra Galston, Founding Partner, Starting Line

Dan Levy, Partner, Bain and Co

Julie Lein, Managing Partner, Urban Innovation Fund

Ra Burde, Policy Advisor, Google 

Harley Sugarman, CEO, Enigma

Rachel Tipograph, Founder & CEO of MikMak

Jake Poses, CEO, Jumprope

Ken Hertz, Senior Partner,  HERTZ LICHTENSTEIN YOUNG & POLK

Ezra Galston, Founding Partner, Starting Line

Tal Briller, Sr. Director, VMware

Randy Lubin, CEO, Leveraged Play

Ido Leffler, Founder and CEO, Yoobi

Yael Mohan, Partner, Bain & Company

Chris O’Riordan, Head of Corporate Strategy and M&A, Interstate Batteries

Sarah Groen, Owner, Bell & Bly Travel

Jacqui Goldman, Corporate Development, Stripe

Pragav Jain, M&A and Corp Development, Waymo

Yohei Iwasaki, CEO, Anifie

Laurent Goldstein, Program Manager, Oracle

Benjamin Zenou, CEO & Founder, SimpliField

Tal Morgenstern, Partner, Lightspeed 

T. Dupree Scovell, Managing Partner, Woodbine Development Corporation 

John Krzywicki, Commercial lead, Invitae

Pascal Bensoussan, CPO, Ivalua

Michael Lebowitz, Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship

Jo Riley, CEO, Censia 

Oded Pelled, CEO, MindKick Inc. 

Tracy Lawrence, CEO, Love Engine

Danielle Russell, Managing Director, Google

Andrew Rogiet, Product Manager, Amazon

Danny Bernstein, Managing Director, Google

David Kaul, Managing Director, Google

Ben Fried, CIO, NYC Site Lead, Google

Abigail Posner, Director, Google

Laura Slabin, Director, Google

Jason Ostheimer, Co-Founder, Advancit Capital

Eric Moret, Director of Product Management, Lacework

Meital Amzallag, Am Detroit 2

Lionel Chocron, Chief Product Officer, Hedera

Catherine Lewi, Head of marketing business communications Google

Alan Chiu, CEO, Enya.ai

Mike Stein, Senior Tech Artist, Niantic 

Danny Greene, VP Global Marketing, Curio Digital, Inc.

Joe Wilson, Managing Partner, Undeterred Capital

John Yi, Founder, Resonant Works

Thomas Pueyo, VP Product & Growth, author

Stefan Kratz, Managing Director, Phoenix Clean Power

Shely Aronov, CEO, InnerPlant  

Kate Doerksen, CEO, Ditto

Brad Wolfe, Executive Director, Reimagine End of Life

Nathan Kondamuri, Co-CEO

Ben Arnon, Co-Founder & CRO, Curio Digital, Inc.

Frank Visciano, Managing Director, Visciano Group

Juan Hernandez, CEO, Curio Digital, Inc.

Mikhail Pecherskiy, CEO, ADG group

Charles Anderson, CEO

Ada Grigoriev, Head of User Support (Candidate) – HR Operations, Google

Jeff Fluhr, General Partner, Craft Ventures

Ooshma Garg, CEO, Gobble

Lisa Falzone, CEO, Athena Security

Jess Mah, CEO, Indinero

Robert Lopez, SVP, Justworks

Adam Swig, Adam Swig, Value Culture, Reboot

Shaun Gerry, Head of Industry, Google Marketing Platform

Gabe Klein, Head of Platform & Marketing, Obvious Ventures

Sharen Phillips,Head of US Channel Sales Partners, Google

Alex Fleshner, Group Manager, Strategic Account @ Google

Greg Fleishman, Co-Founder & CEO, Foodstirs

Gail Livingston, Head of Industry, Google

Veronica Juarez, Founder, arturo advisory

Ben Blumenrose, Designer Fund

The Silicon Valley VC who decamped to Wisconsin to get out the vote

Not too long ago, the venture capitalist Roy Bahat — who runs Bloomberg Beta in San Francisco and is active in Democratic politics — concluded that the stakes were too high this election season for him to sit back and watch the proceedings from the comfortable vantage point of a dependably blue state. So in September he packed up his belongings and moved with his wife and two kids to Whitefish Bay, a suburb of Milwaukee, to help get out the vote.

His decision to relocate to the Badger State for three months or so may seem peculiar given that Wisconsin is now experiencing a massive spike in coronavirus cases and is not widely known for its inviting autumn weather. Couldn’t Bahat have set up shop in another battleground state with a more temperate climate, like Florida or Arizona? But no, Wisconsin made the most sense. Bahat’s wife, Sara Fenske Bahat, a Milwaukee native who chairs the MBA program at the California College of the Arts, has long been active in supporting the Democratic Party of Wisconsin — and this cycle, the couple felt it was imperative to get involved on the ground.

“We just realized that our time is better spent in a swing state than it is in California,” Bahat, whose fund is backed by Bloomberg L.P., told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Monday. “Once we started talking about that, we realized that if we thought about doing it, talked with our kids about it, decided not to do it, and then the worst happens, shame on us for the example we’d be setting for our children. So we decided to go for it.”

Wisconsin has always been a key swing state courted by Democrats and Republicans alike. But this cycle, it carries some extra weight. While former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, is favored to win the state, President Donald Trump has put Democrats on edge thanks to his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin four years ago. Adding to the sense of urgency was a decision last week in which the Supreme Court ruled against counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin received after the election.

Since he arrived in Wisconsin about a month and a half ago with his family — his kids have been able to attend school remotely, a consequence of the pandemic — Bahat has been busy fundraising for Wisconsin Democrats and working to help re-erect the blue wall of Rust Belt states that Democrats had relied on before Trump obliterated it in 2016.

Bahat has also been active in another effort at “last-minute organizing,” volunteering for Walk the Vote, a nationwide grassroots endeavor that encourages voters to join local “parades” so they can safely and securely deliver their ballots to nearby drop boxes amid concerns that votes will not be counted if they are not submitted on time. 

“You can do as many of them as you want in New York and California,” said Bahat, who voted in Wisconsin this year. “You’re not going to change who wins the national office.”

Bahat made sure to point out that his advocacy on behalf of the Democratic Party is independent of his Walk the Vote work because the group is nonpartisan.

The experience of living in a crucial swing state in the weeks leading up to one of the most consequential elections in American history has been eye-opening for Bahat.

“It’s obviously a very different feel than being in a coastal city,” he told JI. “This is a place that has struggled economically and is now doing well. It’s a place where the struggles over race and wealth inequality are front and center. And it’s a rare place where you see Biden and Trump signs lawn next to lawn, and people who are friends and neighbors feeling really differently about this race. So in that way, it’s kind of emblematic of what’s happening in America.”

“I’d also say it’s a place where the political traditions in the Jewish community are very deeply interwoven,” Bahat added. “It’s not something we’ve had a chance to engage with deeply since getting here. But one of the things that I grew up believing is that, as Jews, we’re responsible for engaging civically in our time. I went to the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, and the iconic image in my head is him marching with Martin Luther King. It just feels like we’ve had the beginnings of a return to that in this election.”

On Sunday, Bahat helped organize a Walk the Vote event in Whitefish, where he currently lives. The crowd was thin, but he saw that as a promising development. “Very few people showed up because 91% of mailed-out ballots have already been cast,” he said, referring to the situation in Milwaukee County. “That’s a great sign.”

Across the state, approximately 1.9 million voters have cast their ballots before Election Day, according to a Monday morning count. The number amounts to 63% of the state’s turnout in 2016.

For Bahat, the biggest issue this election is “the stability of our democracy,” he said with an air of gravity. “We need that in order to do anything else.” Assuming democracy is preserved, however, Bahat said that as a venture capitalist who invests in startups focused on the future of work he is also thinking about issues of economic justice as unemployment levels have skyrocketed.

“How do we handle support for the new gig economy?” he said. “How do we handle disparities around race and gender and other forms of difference? Those are mostly issues I’m focused on.”

The pandemic has only made work-related concerns all the more pressing, but Bahat noted that such matters have varied depending on socioeconomic status. “It’s certainly reshaped how we work for people who, like you and me, deal in information,” Bahat told JI. But, he added, it has “less reshaped how we’ve worked, unfortunately, for people who are essential workers.”

Bahat declined to offer his views on Biden’s prospects in Wisconsin. “I’ve intentionally not thought about likelihoods because it does not matter to my actions,” he said. “My main effort is making sure every vote gets out and gets counted. I do not have any special view on the odds.”

Bahat predicted that he will be in Wisconsin until at least the end of January. By that point, it is safe to assume that, no matter which way the election goes, he will be ready to escape Wisconsin’s winter weather and make his retreat to San Francisco’s more clement environs. 

“It snowed a week ago today,” Bahat said with only a slight sense of alarm. Still, he has made the calculation that his efforts have been worth the trouble. “We’re paying the price with our fingertips,” he told JI. “But that’s OK.”