Asana co-founder and head of product Justin Rosenstein discussed the political views of his controversial investor and former board member Peter Thiel today at the Tech Inclusion conference in San Francisco.
Asana isnt the only company to face questions about its continued relationship with Thiel in light of his ongoing support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Facebook and Y Combinator have also recently faced pressure to distance themselves from Thiel.
Thiel spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention and donated $1.25 million to his campaign after the release of a tape that showed Trump talking about non-consensually grabbing womens genitals. The timing of his donation triggered questions about Thiels motivations did the financial investment indicate idealogical support for Trumps comments on sexual assault?
Rosenstein said today he doesnt think thats the case. Thiel wants whats best for the world, Rosenstein said, adding that he hasnt spoken with the investor and Facebook board member since prior to the donation.
My understanding is that he disagrees with the many grotesque things Trump has said, but that the foreign economic policies Trump has are so important that it makes him the best candidate for president. I strongly disagree with that position, Rosenstein explained, But its something I can wrap my head around. Thiel will reportedly address his support for Trump in a speech on Monday.
Rosenstein co-founded Asana with Dustin Moskovitz, who has vocally and financially supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the election. Despite Rosenstein and Moskovitzs personal views, Rosenstein said that conversations about politics and Thiels role at Asana have been transparent and that the company strives to make sure Republican employees arent alienated in those conversations.
His comments echoed those by Y Combinators Sam Altman and Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg, who said that cutting ties with Thiel would harm the diversity of opinions at their organizations.
Thiel invested in Asana in 2012 through his Founders Fund and also joined the companys board of directors. Rosenstein said he is no longer a board member, although its unclear when Thiel left.