By Justin Sink
After spending Wednesday raising cash with some of Hollywood's top celebrities, President Obama will turn to another favorite constituency, the tech industry, in a whirlwind fundraising tour on Thursday.
The genetics startup, which is backed by Google, recently stopped selling its $99 home DNA testing kit after the Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning letter cautioning false results could prompt users into taking unnecessary medical actions.
Later Thursday evening, the president will attend a fundraiser hosted by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sam Altman and Yahoo chief executive Marissa Meyer. Tickets for that event range between $1,000 and $32,400 and will also benefit the DNC, according to an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation.
Altman's Y Combinator seed accelerator has provided money, advice and promotional assistance to some 500 tech startups, including well-known firms like reddit, rental service Airbnb, commenting system Disqus, cloud sharing company Dropbox and digital library Scribd.
Before heading to Silicon Valley, Obama will visit San Diego for a Thursday event at the home of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. Tickets for that event, benefiting House Democrats, range between $10,000 and $34,000, according to a San Diego television station.
There's likely to be a good mixture of current politics on the president's plate during the fundraisers. Qualcomm has been among the most aggressive proponents of comprehensive immigration reform, arguing it would allow their company to better attract and retain high-skilled immigrants.
The fundraising push also comes as many high-profile tech executives have criticized the president over top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs that exploit email and social media services.
In March, Obama hosted executives including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix founder Reed Hastings, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt at the White House in a bid to assuage fears over the programs.
Following that meeting, however, Zuckerberg complained that reforms taken by the administration were "simply not enough" to satisfy his concerns.
"People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the U.S. government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties," the Facebook executive said.
Ironically, the president's fundraising swing will coincide with a House Intelligence Committee markup of a pair of bills that would further restrict the NSA's ability to collect data. The legislation would require phone companies, rather than the government, to retain telephone metadata, limit the number of “hops” away from a terror suspect the government can investigate and add a team of privacy advocates to a top-secret surveillance court weighing national security questions.
The White House has applauded that work as "a very good first step" in the reform push.
Before the San Diego stop, the president will host a "round-table" discussion on Thursday with top Hollywood figures at the Beverly Hilton. According to The Hollywood Reporter, tickets for that invitation-only, closed-press event will run $32,400 per person and benefit the DNC.
That stop is in addition to an event at the home of Disney Chairman Alan Horn on Wednesday night, which drew stars including singer Barbra Streisand, actor James Brolin and studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Tickets ranged between $10,000 and $32,400 and benefited congressional Democrats.