What is in this article?:
- Silicon Valley's Heart Still with Obama But its Eyes Stray
- Playing Both Sides
Despite many of their staff expressing disappointment with the performance of the "Internet president" during his first four years in office, technology firms remain major donors to his re-election campaign.
Silicon Valley may be a haven for liberal hipsters at hot Internet firms -- classic Barack Obama voters -- but this year the tech community is of two minds over who should run the White House.
Junior programmers and marketers may be tuned into environmental and equality issues and thus lean toward the Democratic incumbent.
But the executives responsible for managing profits at firms are often conservative in their thinking, and inclined towards Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to industry insiders.
Nevertheless, despite many of their staff expressing disappointment with the performance of the "Internet president" during his first four years in office, technology firms remain major donors to his re-election campaign.
Microsoft (IW 500/15) and Google trail only the University of California at the top of a list of Obama contributors disclosed by the Center for Responsive Politics.
However, the drive to grow and profit in Silicon Valley makes Romney an attractive candidate for some executives and venture capitalists.
The top five contributors for Romney were listed as financial institutions Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse Group.
A look at which candidate is a better friend to Silicon Valley is clouded by the fact that the brilliant people who write code, design websites and create products at Internet firms tend to be politically liberal "artist types."
Major corporations direct contributions to campaigns or political action committees, but typically try to stay in the good graces of rival parties by having "bundlers" who work with campaigns seeking donations from employees.
Microsoft, for example, has bundlers working with Republicans and Democrats and, as a corporation, has donated to both sides.
Microsoft workers were said to have donated far more heavily to Obama than to Romney. Google doesn't have any bundlers and is unabashedly supporting Obama.
"I think our members are cautiously optimistic about the state of the economy now," said Dennis Cima, senior vice president at public policy trade association Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG).
"This is about growing the economy and it being sustainable; any big shifts could certainly disrupt the system."
While SVLG weighs in on legislation important to the industry, it avoids endorsing candidates, opting to remain neutral and work with those that win offices.
The group's roster of more than 375 members ranges from technology titans such as Google, Microsoft and IBM (IW 500/10) to universities and banks.