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Sequoia Capital’s Michael Moritz calls Donald Trump ‘little more than a hustler’

The Silicon Valley VC compares Trump's business record to those of Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires.

John Phillips / Getty

Michael Moritz added his voice to the growing number in Silicon Valley denouncing Donald Trump, describing him as "little more than a hustler who takes from the rich ... and also takes from the poor."

The Sequoia Capital chairman attacked Trump's business acumen and his antipathy toward immigrants in an op-ed appearing in the Financial Times. Using the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s own terminology, Moritz said Silicon Valley's "winners" have managed to fashion something out of nothing.

Many of them are the sort of people Mr Trump wants to keep from entering America and are victims of prejudice and oppression. Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, queued with his mother waiting for food stamps when he came to America from Ukraine. Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo, could only speak one word of English — "shoe" — when, as a 10-year-old, he came with his mother from Taiwan. The family of Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The late, great Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, walked across the border from Hungary to Austria in 1956.

Moritz takes aim at Trump’s business narrative:

In Silicon Valley, Mr. Trump also fails to get more than a passing grade for his business skills because his actual performance, compared to the myth he has assiduously cultivated, is so mediocre. Look at the arithmetic. Assume 30 million dollars was plonked into a Standard & Poor’s index fund in 1968, when Mr Trump started to work in his father’s business, and leveraged, like many real estate deals, at about 66 per cent. This would now be worth $4.5bn, or about the same as Forbes estimates Mr Trump is really worth (as opposed to the much larger and entirely unverified number he has insisted upon).

The prominent Silicon Valley investor compared Trump’s record, unfavorably, to that of other New York billionaires, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Related Companies' Stephen Ross, a real estate developer, "whose business careers put Mr. Trump’s in the shade."

Compared with Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Ross, Mr. Trump seems little more than a hustler who takes from the rich (lenders he has short-changed, partners he has sued) and also takes from the poor (hapless students of Trump University, tenants whom he has allegedly bullied).

Moritz, whose firm has backed Google, PayPal, and other companies with an aggregate public market value of more than $1.4 trillion, took particular issue with Trump’s attacks on one of the most successful tech entrepreneurs, founder Jeff Bezos.

Mr. Trump’s recent campaign promise — to pursue Amazon for antitrust violations after the Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, published articles that displeased him — illustrates the difference between the Republican nominee and a real winner. Amazon, started in 1994, now has a market value of about $250 billion and Mr. Bezos has a net worth of $63 billion — a figure even Mr. Trump might label, should he ever suffer an attack of humility, as "huge."

Recode co-founder Walt Mossberg spoke with Bezos about Trump at the recent Code Conference. Here’s the interview:

And last year, Recode's Kara Swisher spoke with Moritz on her podcast, Recode Decode.

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