Venture Capitalist Pressures Elon Musk To Quit Trump’s Advisory Group

A Silicon Valley investor has launched a campaign to get Tesla CEO Elon Musk to exit his membership on the Trump administration’s advisory panel.

Doug Derwin, a lawyer turned venture capitalist, had taken his earnings off a successful deal and plunked it down on a Tesla Model S. But weeks after the November presidential election, Derwin became enraged that Musk had accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s invitation to join an economic advisory panel.

After finding out in February that his Model S was ready, Derwin cancelled his purchase. He diverted his funds into a $150,000 donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Derwin has challenged Musk to separate himself from Trump and all that the new president seems to signify in climate change denial and blocking the government’s environmental policies.

He’s paid for billboard ads to be placed near Tesla’s corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and the automaker’s nearby plant in Fremont. The ads have read, “Elon: Please dump Trump.”

On Monday, Derwin launched a new website, www.elondumptrump.com, with a set of videos hawking his campaign and promotional materials such as bumper stickers and hats and shirts reading, “Resist.”

One video digs into the irony of Musk networking with Trump (see above) when their views on climate policy seem to be polar opposites, while another features a Tesla owner speaking out against Musk’s moves.

“Trump was using Elon to legitimize himself,” Derwin said. “It says a lot to low information voters that Trump can’t possibly be that bad because here is Elon Musk hanging on his every word. That’s why I canceled the order. A principled opposition is important here.”

Musk declined to comment to reporters’ inquiries. In the past, he’s made broad statements about why moderates such as himself should have a say in Washington, not allowing extremists to take over the White House.

Pressure had mounted on Musk earlier this year when Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had quit his position on a Trump advisory panel over pressure he and Uber were facing over immigration issues. That had boiled over from controversial measures Trump had been taken on immigration issues.

Derwin is ready to spend $2 million on protests. He’s bought $500,000 worth of media, including ads that will run in major newspapers and television ads. He’ll be staging information booths on college campuses to discourage students from taking jobs with Tesla or SpaceX, Tesla’s space exploration company.

“The worst thing that happens is that I lose some money and maybe make a public idiot out of myself,” he said. “But it seemed to me that it would make sense to push back on Trump in a way that I could.”

Musk has been deflecting criticism from Derwin and Tesla owners who’ve been outraged the Tesla CEO would be supportive of Trump by participating in his advisory groups. Twitter posts and media comments have emphasized the importance of keeping a moderate voice close to Trump to influence actions taken by the administration.

The Tesla CEO has been tapping into an old friend and business partner, Peter Thiel, who’s considered to be a close Trump adviser.

Musk turned down Derwin’s request to have a meeting with him. Derwin did meet with three other top Tesla executives, but nothings seems to have been resolved by the meeting.

That disappointment pushed Derwin to launch the website and take other efforts.

He’s committed to call off the campaign if Musk will quit his role with the Trump administration. He’ll aslo donate $1 million to a charity of Musk’s choice if he might be willing to wear a “Resist” hat and tweets that he disagree with Musk on climate change.

SEE ALSO:  Uber Frustrated With Musk’s Remaining Unscathed on Trump’s Panel

Musk has watched political tides change in Washington and other capitals over the years. He’s taking a position similar to executives from automakers and other global corporations who’ve reached out to Trump and other government leaders. He wants to keep channels open for Tesla, climate policies, and funding for space exploration that SpaceX plays a key role in.

Automotive News reports that Musk has been lobbying to get Pete Worden, a longtime commercial space supporter, supported by Trump as the new director of NASA. Worden advised SpaceX early on and could advocate for the startup company that has seen both explosive losses and victory in the new space travel company.

Automotive News

 


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