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Who is the Jewish guy who will ‘moderate’ DeSantis’ presidential launch on Twitter?

Venture capitalist David Sacks has contributed to both Democrats and Republicans in the past

When Gov. Ron DeSantis launches his presidential bid in a conversation with Elon Musk on Twitter Wednesday evening, the two will be joined by DeSantis supporter and Jewish tech entrepreneur David Sacks.

An invitation to a fundraiser for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted by tech entrepreneur David Sacks and his wife, Jacqueline Sacks. Courtesy of Twitter screenshot

Breaking the news of the unconventional social media kickoff Tuesday, NBC News reported that Sacks would “moderate” the discussion between DeSantis, the Florida governor who is seen as former President Donald Trump’s biggest challenger for the GOP nomination, and Musk, who owns Twitter.

Sacks and Musk go back to the 1990s when they were both members of the “PayPal Mafia,” a group of entrepreneurs who went on to found other successful technology companies. 

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Twitter Spaces, an audio chat platform. DeSantis plans a campaign rally in his hometown of Dunedin, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, next week. Musk on Tuesday said he is not endorsing any candidate at this time.

Sacks, 50, who was born into a Jewish family, hosted a fundraiser for DeSantis in San Francisco in 2021. Here are some more things to know about him.

■ His family emigrated from South Africa — where Musk was also born — when he was 5 and settled in Memphis, where his father was an endocrinologist.

■ He defended Musk last week when the Twitter CEO took heat for comparing Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, to the comic book supervillain Magneto. The Anti-Defamation League deemed the comparison antisemitic and has long warned that conspiracy theories about Soros are steeped in anti-Jewish bigotry.

■ He affected a high-pitched voice to describe the “Jewish mother panic” he confronted after leaving his consulting firm for the tech sector. “Oh, my God, you’re quitting your job and joining a startup!” he said on the Panic With Friends podcast in 2021.

■ On that same podcast he described himself as “socially pretty tolerant and liberal” and said that he wants the country to be “fiscally responsible.” But he also echoed Musk’s concerns about pressures on social media to police itself better: “Free speech has really come under assault,” he said. ”It started before the deplatforming of Trump, but that was definitely a major milestone that a sitting president of the United States could be thrown off social media.” (Twitter froze Trump’s account in 2021 for inciting violence, but Musk reversed that decision after he bought Twitter in 2022.)

■ He is an eclectic campaign donor. He gave to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s in 2016. He also supported Republican J.D. Vance’s successful Senate bid in Ohio, and contributed to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who left the Democrat party and became an independent last year. 

■ After graduating from Stanford University and the University of Chicago Law School, he went on to serve as COO of PayPal, and founded Yammer, the social enterprise network. He is now a founding partner of the venture capitalist company Craft Ventures.

■ He produced the movie Thank You For Smoking, which featured Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes and William H. Macy, and was nominated for best picture at the 2006 Golden Globes. (It lost to Dreamgirls.) He also produced Dali Land, starring Ben Kingsley as Salvador Dali, which premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

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