Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was one of the earlier 2020 candidates to propose breaking up the largest tech companies and potentially having the government regulate them like utilities. It’s a mantra she’s repeated on the campaign trail on a regular basis. But now she’s doubling down on the message with a campaign tactic that may not make the most sense. Her team has put up a massive billboard on the subject, which isn’t all that unusual for a political campaign. It’s the location that makes it peculiar. She put it up right in Silicon Valley near many of the Big Tech companies she’s looking to fracture. (The Verge)
On Wednesday, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) put up a billboard in the heart of Silicon Valley pressing for big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google to be broken up.
The billboard is located at 4th and Townsend, right next to the city’s primary Caltrain stop, where a substantial chunk of South Bay technology workers arrive each morning. It’s not exactly prime placement — considering it’s neither facing the Caltrain station nor along the most traffic’d sidewalks for employees commuting back to the South Bay — but the billboard is just blocks from the headquarters for Lyft and Dropbox, among other startups. Alongside the call for antitrust action, the billboard includes a short-code number for passersby to subscribe to updates from the Warren campaign, a common fundraising tactic.
Breaking up and/or regulating the Big Tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook isn’t a particularly unique idea among Democrats, so it’s not all that crazy of a point for Warren to be campaigning and fundraising on during the primary. But when she wades directly into enemy territory and buys a huge billboard ad, doesn’t her team worry about potential backlash?
Thinks of it this way. A huge number of people passing through that train station probably work for one of those companies or they have friends or family members who do. If you use your power as president to break up those companies, there are going to be people who lose their jobs. She’s going to need all of the Democrats in that region to be voting for her in the primary (and theoretically in the general election if she wins the nomination). Also, Silicon Valley is a lucrative fundraising region. Is this smart?
Warren includes a number to send a text message to so people can “join her campaign.” But she may as well have changed the billboard message to, “Vote for Warren and enjoy exciting new adventures on the unemployment line!” I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those text messages she receives will include some four letter words that aren’t “vote.”