New poll results show Meg Whitman in the lead over Jerry Brown in the race for California governor, according to Rasmussen Reports. But when it comes to campaign financing, records show the ex-eBay CEO drawing only partial support from what one might consider a bread-and butter constituency – venture capitalists, tech billionaires and entrepreneurs.
Certainly some prominent VCs are backing Whitman. After all, early investors in eBay enjoyed some of largest and fastest returns in venture capital history. So, it’s no surprise that some of them are giving back a tiny portion to support the political ambitions of its former CEO.
Listed among those who provided the maximum contribution of $25,900 to Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign are Kevin Harvey, Robert Kagle and Bruce Dunlevie of Benchmark Capital, none of whom had to dig deep into their bank accounts. As eBay’s first venture backer, Benchmark saw value of the company grew from $20 million to more than $21 billion within two years of its investment, according to eBoys, a book about the firm.
Other eBay beneficiaries-turned-donors include Tesla founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, and Matthew Bannick, Omidyar Networks’ managing partner and former eBay International president, who also contributed the maximum, according to the Sacramento Bee’s campaign contribution database (http://www.sacbee.com/gov2010money).
But while Whitman‘s campaign has focused heavily on touting her business experience as a much-needed asset for fiscally troubled California, not all in the VC community are on board.
Several well-known venture capitalists and VC-backed entrepreneurs are supporting Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. The list includes Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers co-founder Tom Perkins, who’s listed as contributing $25,900 to Brown.
Steve Westly, who made his fortune as a former chief marketing officer of eBay and launched his own unsuccessful bid as Democratic candidate for governor in 2006, chose party loyalty over ex-employer allegiance. The former California state controller currently runs The Westly Group, a cleantech venture fund that was an early backer of Tesla, and is supporting Brown’s campaign.
Other Brown contributors include KP’s Brook Byers, Garrett Greuner, co-founder of Alta Partners, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Eric Schmidt.
Others from the venture capital industry backing Whitman’s campaign include: Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, KP’s Ray Lane, Douglas Carlisle of Menlo Ventures, and Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz.