The role of business in American politics has provoked much controversy and attention over recent years. One need look no further than the Koch brothers or the Trump administration to get an idea of the extent to which the interests of private business wield influence over the political system. Contemporary evidence of the clear and growing disparities in wealth between ordinary citizens and business elites has drawn new attention to this topic. Recently, the canon
on the activities of business elites in politics has also grown as we have learned a great deal about how business firms and their ultra-wealthy leaders and investors seek to exert political influence.
This book looks at one form of business elite activity that has thus far received little attention, despite the high-profile political efforts of billionaire businesspeople including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg: a phenomenon that Darren R. Halpin and Anthony J. Nownes call new entrepreneurial advocacy. This "entrepreneurial advocacy" is a mode of political engagement in which wealthy entrepreneurs (often from Silicon Valley) use their vast resources to form new organizations that
advocate for their vision of the social good, which may or may not be directly linked to their private or business interests.
While previous studies focus on a cross section of either the wealthiest Americans or the largest firms in the United States, this book takes a deep-dive into the political activities of a single, yet pivotal, cohort-the founders and CEOs of Silicon Valley firms. Specifically, the authors trace the development of new entrepreneurial advocacy to understand its extent, its breadth, and whose interests they represent, who supports them financially, and why business elites choose to create new
organizations to engage in advocacy rather than do so under the umbrellas of their companies. Crucially, the authors also look at the impact of these organizations and what their activity means for American democracy. Leveraging a vast range of unique datasets, from political donations and lobbying to
philanthropic giving and social media commentary, this book examines the role of this important set of elites in contemporary American political life.