(This article originally appeared on WIRED on January 19)
LOOK—WE HAVE NO idea how this election will turn out. President Trump? Cruz? Clinton? Rubio? Sanders? Fiorina? If we could tell you where things will stand in November, we damn sure wouldn’t be editing a magazine.
But we do know this: 2016 is the election when Silicon Valley—its players, its policy priorities, and, oh yes, its money—finally upstages the old 20th-century power structure and seizes control of the political game.
Of course, tech has been shifting the terrain in ways large and small for a while now. Where would a candidate’s op-research/rapid-response team be without analytics apps? What might have happened if that video of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” had never shown up? And then, of course, there’s Barack Obama. Eight years ago, he harnessed data tracking and social media to fuel a next-generation political machine that rewrote the rules of campaigning and rocketed him to the White House. Since then, every politician has learned what every startup knows in its bones: You live and die by software.
But in 2016, the power players in Silicon Valley are beginning to confidently wield their tremendous economic resources and social influence—Google is one of the top lobbyists in the country—and as we know, in American politics, money is power. Tech also has the data, and data is the lifeblood of campaigns. Finally, tech controls the new means of communication, from Twitter to Snapchat to Facebook. Political narratives are no longer limited to—or even primarily told through—TV networks and major newspapers (if such things even really still matter). Together these forces give the titans of Silicon Valley outsize clout in the political world.
As for the issues? Well those are taking on familiar themes as well. Whether it’s Hillary Clinton’s push to defend the US from Chinese cyberwarriors, Bernie Sanders’ critique of labor practices in the age of Uber, Ted Cruz’s proposals to balance privacy with government surveillance (don’t get us started on Carly Fiorina’s ham-handed suggestion that Silicon Valley needs to get in line with government requests for cooperation), or even Elon Musk warning us about the imminent rise of the machines, one thing is clear: The political landscape has shifted. Along with that, the nature of power itself is changing.
When Mark Zuckerberg stumps for immigration reform, chats up the president of China—in Mandarin—or announces that he’s going to use his $45-billion fortune to rethink “society,” that is power. When an Instagram post by Kimye endorsing Hillary Clinton gets almost a million likes, well, that is power. This is the year in which tech—its interests and, most important, the money behind those interests—will shape the election. To show you how, and to help you keep score at home, we’ve identified the insiders who make up the new power elite. Politics will never be the same. —Michael Hainey
20) Linda Moore
CLAIM TO POWER: Broadening the reach of tech’s most powerful advocacy group
FAMOUS FRIEND: Hillary Clinton
Moore honed her political chops as deputy political director in Bill Clinton’s White House and was director of congressional affairs for Hillary’s 2008 primary run. In 2014 she became president and CEO of TechNet. When Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr and Cisco’s John Chambers founded the advocacy group in the late ’90s, they were looking to convince policymakers of the importance of tech. Since then, the bipartisan organization has grown to become the Valley’s strongest fundraising network and lobbying voice in Washington, backed by Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others. Moore will make sure the presidential candidates get the Valley’s point of view on issues like immigration of skilled workers and cybersecurity. Under her leadership, Technet has also gotten involved at the state level on STEM education and the regulatory issues faced by Lyft and Uber. —Jessi Hempel