Project Include, a high-profile Silicon Valley diversity initiative, has officially cut ties with the influential Y Combinator venture incubator due to its ties to prominent Donald Trump supporter, Peter Thiel. The venture capitalist gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, and is reported to be offering a $1.25 million donation to Trump. Project Include cofounder Ellen Pao called it "a direct contribution to creating hate and instilling fear."
In the post, Pao gave a nod to Y Combinator's work tackling diversity, acknowledging its advances in diversity and inclusion in its own ranks. "We saw an opportunity to work with YC companies interested in building vibrant and diverse organizations, and we actively invited YC as a contributor to our VC Include program," added Pao. While the group has severed its ties with YC directly, Pao told Motherboard that it would still work with YC companies -- albeit directly.
Ellen Pao previously worked inside the ranks of venture capital at Kleiner Perkins. She eventually sued the company for gender discrimination. She then became the CEO of Reddit, but left following a site revolt where the entire front page of the influential site was aimed squarely at abusing the then-chief executive.
Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, has already stated his support of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton -- and justified keeping Thiel on board -- here. "I liked the choice I made," he told Motherboard, when it came to keeping the venture capitalist. In his own blog post, he said: "The way we got into a situation with Trump as a major party nominee in the first place was by not talking to people who are very different than we are. The polarization of the country into two parallel political realities is not good for any of us. We should talk to each other more, not less."
Pao notes in her post: "We agree that people shouldn't be fired for their political views, but this isn't a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence."