Tom Perkins, one of the co-founders of the Silicon Valley powerhouse venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, is afraid the next Kristallnacht — a night of violence against Jews before the start of World War II — will happen in the Bay Area.
Perkins, who is 81, perceives a "rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent" that mirrors the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, he says in a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal.
Class tensions in the San Francisco Bay Area recently flared up over the area's skyrocketing rent and "Google buses," private luxury coaches that shuttle wealthy tech workers to the office. Perkins specifically calls out the Occupy movement and the San Fransciso Chronicle for perpetuating anti-one percent rhetoric. This "progressive radicalism" is just like the fascist backlash against the Jews, Perkins argues.
The letter is short but rather bizarre
The letter is short but rather bizarre. The WSJ notes that the letter was a reaction to an article about censorship on college campuses, although the connection is oblique. Perkins also gives a shoutout to his ex-wife who he refers to as "our number-one celebrity," the romance writer Danielle Steel who has been criticized for the giant hedges around her San Francisco mansion.
The letter immediately provoked the outrage and disbelief that typically follows tenuous invocations of the Holocaust.
Perkins has penned pro-capitalist editorials in the past. In 2012 Perkins told the Journal, "I'm called the king of Silicon Valley. Why can't I have a penthouse?"
Update: Kleiner Perkins took to Twitter this afternoon to officially distance itself from its founder's statements:
Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.— Kleiner Perkins (@kpcb) January 25, 2014