Online protests as Condoleezza Rice joins board
Critics say the former secretary of state is a poor match for Dropbox, a startup that hosts users' business and personal data.
Dropbox is the latest company to run afoul of Silicon Valley's political orthodoxy.
The file-sharing startup Wednesday added former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pictured) as a director to "help us expand our global footprint."
Quickly, an Internet protest sprang up to encourage Dropbox users to boycott the service unless the San Francisco startup forces her off its board. A new website, "Drop Dropbox," said Rice's role in helping set U.S. policies in Iraq, and in promoting U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance policies, made her a poor fit for a startup that "we are trusting with our most important business and personal data."
Dropbox declined to comment Thursday. A spokeswoman for Rice, now a professor at Stanford University, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
A post about the Dropbox petition on Hacker News, a popular website for Valley tech types, had about 900 comments as of 4 p.m. PT Thursday. Topsy, which tracks keywords used on social-media services, said there were nearly 3,000 Twitter posts in the past day using the "DropDropbox" hashtag -- about as many mentions on Twitter as Crimea.
Many of the posts were critical of Dropbox's alliance with Rice, but others said the protesters were unfairly bullying people who support Rice or share her political views.
The flap is the latest example of blowback when the technology community's libertarian, progressive image of itself comes into conflict with individual views or corporate efforts to build bridges to those with other views.
Most recently, the CEO of Mozilla, the organization overseeing the Firefox Web browser, stepped down last week after employees and board members criticized a donation he had made to support a 2008 ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California. Critics of the former CEO said his views on gay marriage were incompatible with Silicon Valley's historically permissive attitudes.
Efforts by Google (GOOG) and others to reach out to conservatives also have provoked criticism. Last year some Silicon Valley backers of FWD.us, an organization established by Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives to push for immigration overhaul, pulled out of the group in part over FWD.us' support of conservative politicians.
The Dropbox controversy comes as Rice has been increasingly active in Silicon Valley. Her consulting firm with two other Bush administration officials, Stephen Hadley and Robert Gates, has worked with data-storage startup Nutanix and cybersecurity firm Vectra. The firm says it can help companies "develop and implement their international strategic plans and help them expand in major emerging markets."
Bill Anastas, a Dropbox user who works at a digital-design agency in the Los Angeles area, said he thought the company showed poor judgment in appointing a "polarizing" person as a board member.
"I don't have to agree or disagree with the ideologies of the people that make the things that I use," he said, "but when those ideologies come to the surface and they go against my thinking, it's difficult for me to separate the company from the ideology and continue as usual."
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Ah... So anything with democrats should be boycotted? That can be arranged.
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