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3 tech luminaries reveal what they'd do if they had a Trump donor on their board

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is reportedly donating $1.25 million to support Donald Trump’s campaign. Vanity Fair special correspondent Nick Bilton used that as fodder for the opening panel of the Vanity Fair new establishment summit, being streamed exclusively by Yahoo Finance Wednesday and Thursday.

He posed a question that Facebook (FB), Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz are currently grappling with — Would you kick a person that donated $1.25 million to Trump at this stage of the election off your board?

“Absolutely,” panelist and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya replied without skipping a beat. “I control my company. I get to decide. I would decide to kick off a board member,” he elaborated.

Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya

Fellow panelist, Box (BOX) CEO Aaron Levie, had a more measured response, saying he would likely distance himself if a board member donated to the presidential candidate, given the current political climate.

“Based on my views of this election, I believe that this hypothetical member could have an impact on the organization, so it would be wise to sever ties, at least in the short-term,” Levie said.

Though Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker did not answer the question head-on, she advised the audience to avoid acting rashly.

“This is a free world and people are entitled to their opinions. It is so easy to have a knee jerk response when something bad happens,” she said.

She then broadened the conversation to discuss the election holistically, purporting that we’re experiencing a massive shift in the way people think about politics.

“Curt Schilling, a conservative baseball player, will potentially run against Elizabeth Warren,” she noted. “Democracy is agitated. When a baseball player says he’s potentially going to run for office, that’s actually good. The Donald Trump stuff has raised an issue that is important to our society. Made the debate much more intense.”

Palihapitiya said though the democracy may be experiencing growing pains, he says Trump is threatening his bullish view on the future of the US. “I’ve immigrated to this country and paid enormous amounts of capital,” he said. “I want to be here and I want to help this team win.”

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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