Intel CEO Brian Krzanich this week found himself in the middle of the highly volatile presidential campaign when he scheduled—and then abruptly canceled—a fundraising event for Donald Trump, the controversial presumptive nominee for the Republican Party.
Krzanich had planned to host the event at his home, but spiked it soon after the New York Times began raising questions about his support for the billionaire. Reports about the fundraiser reportedly drew intense criticism from both outside of Intel and within the company’s ranks. The CEO tried to tamp down some of that criticism June 2 with a tweet in which he said, “I do not intend to endorse any Presidential candidate. We are interested in engaging both campaigns in open dialogue on issues in technology.”
Still, the idea of Krzanich hosting a fundraiser for Trump would be in opposition to initiatives the CEO has put in place at Intel. The company is spending $300 million on a diversity program designed to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities within its workforce, and like most other tech companies, has a significant number of workers from other countries. It also is working hard to expand its business in China, and was once run by Andy Grove, who had immigrated from Hungary after World War II.
Trump has made attacks on immigrants a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, while also making demeaning comments about women and threatening a trade war with China. He also has attacked Apple and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and has drawn the ire of some high-profile tech industry executives. Among those is Hewlett Packard Enterprise Meg Whitman, a staunch Republican, who earlier this year said Trump is “unfit” to be president.
“He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears,” Whitman said in a statement while criticizing N.J. Gov. Chris Christie—her first choice for president—for endorsing the billionaire real estate developer. “Trump would take America on a dangerous journey.”
There reportedly was criticism of Krzanich’s planned Trump event from inside Intel. Recode reported that there was “dismay within the corporate ranks over Krzanich’s apparent naiveté around the implications of hosting such an event.”