Over the weekend we wrote about the CEO of San Francisco-based tech company Expensify – one of the world’s largest providers of expense account software – and his decision to email the company’s 10 million clients pleading with them to vote for Vice President Joe Biden.
According to Bloomberg, the idea elicited “strong debate” within the company, which is based in San Francisco, with some employees disagreeing with the gesture. But CEO David Barrett, the driving force behind the message, said he decided to press ahead and hit ‘send’.
“We needed to stand true for what we believe in and hope that most people agree with us,” Barrett said in an interview. “It’s not like we did this with a lot of enthusiasm. We did this out of a perceived necessity.”
At one point in the email, Barrett wrote that “anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy,” and that if President Trump were reelected, Barrett wrote, it would “damage our democracy to such an extent, I’m obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it.” Read the complete email below:
— Rick Klau (@rklau) October 22, 2020
His decision to send the letter, as you might imagine, produced a wide-ranging response varying from unwavering support of every word to utter disgust.
I’m writing about the unsolicited email that you sent last night to many of my colleagues – and, I gather, millions more users around the globe.
Let me start by saying that I have no objection to you having strong feelings about politics. Those strong feelings are shared by many at the moment among partisans of all stripes. Supporters of President Trump and Vice President shared by many at the moment among partisans of all stripes. Supporters of President Trump and Vice President Biden both cast this election in apocalyptic terms, the result no doubt of strongly held feelings.
My feelings on politics aren’t as strong as yours. But I do have strong feelings about another matter: trust. For a variety of reasons, America is becoming a low-trust society. Conspiracy theories abound, relationships are breaking down on partisan lines, and the institutions that are critical to a free and open society are being undermined in many cases by their own actions that destroy trust.
Your email contributes to this breakdown in social trust. David, we selected Expensify as a vendor based on trust – after all, you have financial information for us organizationally as well as the personal information of hundreds of my colleagues. You also have our email addresses. We trusted you with our private information. You have violated that trust.
I also have strong feelings about another matter of public interest: the politicization of everything. A healthy society cannot exist if its political tribalism invades every aspect of commercial, civic, and community life. Team Red and Team Blue have gone from being who we vote for to, in many cases, lifestyle determinants. That is unhealthy to our civic fabric.
And again, your email has exacerbated this. Until last night, I saw Expensify as a pioneering company that made my life a lot easier. Now, I see Expensify as a Team Blue company.
To be clear, I’m not writing this as a member of Team Red. I’m not on that team. I’m not on any team. Millions of Americans are in the same boat.
Frankly, we’re sick and tired of partisans on both sides telling us that we need to ally ourselves with one team or another. And if I may be more blunt, we’re especially tired of being told this by people who have built an app or look good on camera. You have no special insights on public policy or politics, and the fact you think we need to have your opinions placed in our inboxes is vain and narcissistic.
David, last night you chose to violate the trust your company has built up and politicize your company. That is, I suppose, your right. But this country cannot endure without trust and apolitical spaces. And fixing these underlying issues is a far deeper and more important issue than the next election.
Well said Daniel! However, we suspect all David can think of are the stack of virtue-signaling points he achieved in the new social-credit-scoring system after The Great Reset.