Trump rakes in $12 million at tech fundraiser in liberal San Francisco

"President Trump is relaxed, happy, and cracking jokes about AI," Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon said on X.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump rally in Pacific Heights ahead of a campaign fundraiser in San Francisco, California, U.S., June 6, 2024. / REUTERS/Laure Andrillon

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump raised $12 million on June 7, two sources said, at an event hosted by two tech venture capitalists in San Francisco that drew Silicon Valley investors turned off by the Biden administration's policies.

Venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, as well as Sacks' wife Jacqueline, held the reception and dinner with Trump at the Sacks' swanky mansion in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.

The gathering, where top tickets were $500,000 per couple, was sold out, a source with knowledge of the fundraiser told Reuters. It raised some $12 million, according to Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon and another source.

While San Francisco is heavily liberal—Democrat Joe Biden won 85 percent of the city's vote in the 2020 election against then-President Trump—a growing number of high-profile local venture capitalists and crypto investors have thrown their support behind Trump ahead of his November rematch against Biden.

"President Trump is relaxed, happy, and cracking jokes about AI," Dhillon, a conservative lawyer, posted on X from the event.

Executives from crypto exchange Coinbase, crypto investor twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and other crypto leaders were in attendance, Dhillon added. Trump talked about how Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has warned about crypto being used by scam investors and criminals, is "going after crypto," according to Dhillon.

Biden last week vetoed what he described as a Republican-led resolution that would "inappropriately constrain the SEC's ability to set forth appropriate guardrails and address future issues" relating to cryptocurrency assets.

Trevor Traina, a San Francisco-based tech executive and former Trump ambassador to Austria, said business regulations implemented during Biden's presidency had alienated some people in the tech industry.

"That might have been just the final domino," Traina said of Biden's veto.

The crypto industry is increasingly trying to influence U.S. politicians as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators, especially since bankruptcies at major crypto firms in 2022 spooked investors, exposed fraud and misconduct, and left millions of investors out of pocket.

Sacks and Palihapitiya have talked publicly about their investments in crypto, especially in bitcoin. A representative for Sacks, who formally endorsed Trump earlier on Thursday, declined to comment. Palihapitiya did not respond to requests for comment.

Jacob Helberg, an adviser to data analytics provider Palantir and a Democrat until about 2021, said he recently donated around $1 million to Trump's campaign.

"In 2016, the number of people from Silicon Valley I knew who supported Trump was a sample of one, which was Peter," Helberg said, referring to Palantir co-founder and conservative venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

"Today I count them in the dozens, if not more than that. Over the course of the past six months, we've started to see the dam break," he said.

Helberg, who also helps raise money for Trump, cited factors including the economy, border security, and the Israel-Hamas conflict for the shifts in support, as well as what he called excessive regulation and perceptions of a politicized judiciary following Trump's conviction in a New York hush money case.

Trump's campaign raked in record amounts after the guilty verdict last week, and the San Francisco event will add to his coffers.

Undeterred by his conviction, major Republican donors have rallied behind Trump, pledging millions of dollars to support the first convicted felon running for U.S. president.

Senator J.D. Vance, a potential running mate for Trump who previously lived in San Francisco and worked in venture capital, was also on site. Vance helped organize the fundraiser and was a point of contact between Sacks and the Trump campaign, according to another source familiar with the discussions.

Sacks thanked Vance in his speech, according to the source, saying "this all started with J.D. Vance calling and asking if we could host an event for President Trump."

Reuters also saw another potential running mate for Trump, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, enter Sacks' home, a few blocks from where Trump supporters and opponents - including one anti-Trump protester wearing a hat that said 'felon' - were gathered.

San Francisco remains a fertile fundraising ground for Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris was in the city for her own fundraiser on June 5, held at a music venue decorated with rainbow flags and other Pride Month themed decor, while over 100 Gaza ceasefire protesters chanted outside.

"Everything is at stake in this election," said Harris, who spoke about abortion rights and support for gay marriage but did not mention Trump by name.