Tech Leader Quasi-Apologizes For His Nazi Rampage Analogy
Multi-millionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins tried to apologize — kind of — for comparing the protests against the techno-affluent to Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi rampage that led to 91 killings and 30,000 Jews sent to concentration camps.
Perkins' feelings about a "progressive war" against the top one percent of earners were published in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend and touched many a nerve in the long-simmering class tensions in the Bay Area. His letter led to denouncements from his own VC firm and from other tech leaders, including Marc Andreessen, another prominent venture capitalist.
In a ten-minute interview on Bloomberg TV, Perkins, founding partner at the firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, said he "deeply apologized" to the head of the Anti-Defamation League for his word choice.
"It was a terrible word to have chosen," Perkins said of "Kristallnacht" in his appearance on Monday night. But he also didn't back away from his broader message. "The letter said what I believed," he said. (The Huffington Post has video of most of the interview.)
And despite apologizing for his poor word choice, Perkins seemed to reiterate his broader Nazi comparison in the interview.
"Jews were only one percent of German population, yet Hitler was able to demonize the Jews," Perkins explained, in his quasi-apology. "I don't feel personally threatened, but I think a very important part of America, namely the creative one percent, are threatened."
And when asked what should be done to improve the lives of the 99 percent, Perkins basically summed up trickle-down economic policies popularized by the Reagan administration:
"I think that the solution is less interference, lower taxes, let the rich do what the rich do—which is get richer, and along the way they bring everybody else along with them, when the system is working," Perkins said.
His rambling answers also include a note about how wealthy he is. Perkins remarked that out he owns a plane that flies underwater and showed off his expensive watch, which, he pointed out, is not a Rolex (it's a Richard Mille that retails for $300,000).
"Yeah, I think I'm connected to reality," Perkins said, when asked whether he was divorced from reality.
For more, Bloomberg Businessweek has an excellent play-by-play.