Tom Perkins, a successful American businessman and billionaire entrepreneur, has come under fire for recent remarks he made about the “progressive war” on the 1 percent in the United States. His comments drew the ire of Internet bloggers and Twitter users alike, and even raised eyebrows among his own colleagues in Silicon Valley. Now, Perkins responds to those who found fault with his statement.
During an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang on Monday, Perkins apologized for using the word “Kristallnacht” in his letter to the Wall Street Journal. Perkins said he regretted the comparison, but “not the message.”
“The 1 percent are not causing the inequality, they are the job creators,” he told Chang. “It’s absurd to demonize the rich who create opportunities for others.”
Perkins continued to defend his writing of the letter, citing the recent spate of “attacks” on his former wife Danielle Steel and the previous Occupy movement as reasons for his beliefs.
Perkins, who co-founded the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, penned an open letter to the Wall Street Journal in which he compared the treatment of the wealthy to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
In the letter, published Jan. 24, Perkins pointed out what he called “parallels” between “fascist Nazi Germany” and the “progressive war on the American one percent.”
“From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” Perkins wrote. “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?”
Kristallnacht was an anti-Semitic riot organized by the Nazis in Nov. 1938. The series of coordinated attacks led to nearly 100 Jews in Germany and Austria being murdered and tens of thousands more going to concentration camps.
Paul Kedrosky, co-founder of Garibaldi Capital Advisors, described Perkins’ comments as “contemptible, indefensible, [and] stupid.”
Even Perkins’ own firm quickly distanced itself from its founder. “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree,” the firm tweeted Saturday.
While social media users waited for Perkins to recant his statement, he actually did the opposite, telling Bloomberg News in an email that he stood by his statement.
“In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization,” he wrote.
During Monday’s interview with Bloomberg TV, Perkins said he still believes there are parallels to draw between the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and today’s one percent. “I was talking about the persecution of a minority by the majority,” Perkins said.
He added: “My point was that it can get out of control. That was my thought.”
When Chang asked Perkins if KPCB should remove his name from their door, Perkins said that’s a decision for KPCB.
“That’ll be something for them to decide,” he said. “I don’t care if it comes or goes.”