Hey folks, popping in here to share a new piece that I thought might be of interest to friends in EA. I have a feeling you'll know a few of the people mentioned, and there are lots of exclusive details about Dustin Moskovitz's work that you might not know about.

Our publication, Puck, requires a subscription — but you can trade an email to read a story, do a free trial, or consider subscribing! I write about political and philanthropic donors, and am going to spend a lot of the year covering their moves ahead of the November race.

Here's the piece, and here are the first few paragraphs:

On a Thursday in February, the same morning that he was scheduled to meet with the widow of Alexey Navalny, Joe Biden found himself at the Fairmont Hotel, atop Nob Hill, staring at a total stranger half his age. Dustin Moskovitz, the 39-year-old billionaire seated across from him, was probably more responsible than any other donor for vaulting Biden into the presidency. And yet, somehow, the two had never met.

Moskovitz, like the other Harvard kids who won the roommate lottery with Mark Zuckerberg and became Silicon Valley royalty, is often dismissed as some accidental co-founder of Facebook, the ultimate example of being in the right place at the right time. But Moskovitz caught lightning in a bottle a second time with Asana, the public software company he founded in 2008. He and his partner in all things, former Wall Street Journal reporter Cari Tuna, whom he met on a blind date, would become the patron saints of effective altruism—particularly during the post-S.B.F. correction—with $25 billion to dole out through their Open Philanthropy charity. 

Moskovitz is unlike any other ultra-wealthy donor I have covered: insanely intelligent and well-read on political topics, but also skeptical, almost hostile, toward the influence-peddling game. For all his earnestness, he has sometimes appeared to shirk the civic duty he extols, shying away from using his money to achieve his political objectives. In September 2016, before committing $20 million to groups backing Hillary Clinton, he wrote a Medium essay entitled “Compelled to Act” that bared his introspection. “This decision was not easy, particularly because we have reservations about anyone using large amounts of money to influence elections,” he wrote. “That said, we believe in trying to do as much good as we can, which in this case means using the tools available to us.” He would later express regret about getting involved in the election too late. 

Four years later, Moskovitz spent more $50 million to elect Biden—and the real number, accounting for dark money donations, is probably more like twice that, I’m told. The ostensible predicate of the Moskovitz-Biden summit at the Fairmont, previously unreported, was to discuss safety in artificial intelligence, a topic that has consumed Dustin during the last year or two, as it has for so many effective altruists. But the subtext was obvious: Wouldn’t it be great if Moskovitz and Tuna could fork over that amount of cash again? Shortly thereafter, the couple cut at least one “super-max” check ($929,000) to the Biden campaign, I’m told, and I hear this is just the start. “Cari and I were excited to meet President Biden and thank him for his work,” Moskovitz told me.





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I am so grateful to Moskovitz and Tuna for making these donations.

This coming November is — technically— a US election. That being said, if Trump were to win, it would lead to worsened security and immense suffering nationally and internationally. The US cannot let Trump become President and must do everything possible to prevent this from happening (barring illegal or unethical actions).

From my POV, supporting Biden by ensuring he gets the votes he needs seems like the only viable option. If you have other ideas please share them!

This election is absolutely critical. How can we strategize and coordinate with the aim of avoiding the worst outcome? What organizations/ who is working on this, either in or outside of EA? If you’re not comfortable posting,pleasemessage me.

  • please forgive me in advance for not explaining my rationale fully; I do not currently have access to clean internet network or computer so am typing on my phone.

Thanks for sharing. I agree that this election is atypical.

Can you all help me understand why this is getting downvoted? At the moment the comment’s karma is -2, though 6 people have agreed and 3 have disagreed.

Is the downvoting likely occurring because:

A) I shouldn’t have written this as a response to the above post.

B) I did not provide sufficient rationale.

C) You prefer Trump over Biden.

D) You don’t believe electing Trump would threaten national and international security / increase cumulative suffering.

E) You believe that voting for a write in candidate or third party has a real chance at being successful.

F) Something else (I’d be grateful if you specify).

Thanks for the feedback.

I didn’t vote, but I’d guess that people are trying to discourage politicisation on the forum?

Interesting, thanks for sharing!

I can see how that may be the case and I appreciate your feedback. It made me think.

I believe there can be value in keeping a space politically neutral, but that there are circumstances that warrant exceptions and that this is one such case. If Trump wins, I believe that moral progress will unravel and several cause areas will be rendered hopeless.

If there had been a forum in existence before WW2, I wonder if posts expressing concerns about Hitler or inquiring about efforts to counter actions of Nazis would have been downvoted. I certainly hope not.

This post captures some of my feelings for why I don't think we should make exceptions for US elections: 


See also: 


For people not clicking through the first link, I thought this youtube video was pretty impressive: almost a hundred years of leading politicians claiming that each election is the or one of the most important elections of our lives / the century / all time.

Good illustration! I'd be curious how many people saying 2024 is the most important will in 2028 think 2024 was more important?

I did like the 1:32 bit where Obama says "this is... certainly the most important election in my lifetime". Which I take to be him making fun of this trope.

Fair point.

OTOH, If Trump wins or “wins” in 2024, I’m honestly not sure a legitimate election would be possible in 2028, in which case 2024 would have been the most important.

Hoping 2024 is legitimate. There are justified concerns that Trump will not accept defeat (assuming legitimate defeat) and will stop at nothing to regain power. He is a very dangerous man.

Thanks for sharing a summary of the content in addition to the link! Super helpful as I do not have streaming right now and am trying to avoid hyperlinks.

It makes sense that politicians would say this kind of thing leading up to an election. However, the futures that these 2 candidates are proposing are wildly different. I know that I am not alone (neither here on the forum nor IRL) in believing that this election will be a tipping point and will have implications that ripple far beyond just the US.

Thanks for sharing:

Curious as to your take on this: If this forum existed prior to WW2 and there was a post suggesting that it was imperative to prevent Hitler from gaining power, would you have felt that post should not have been made?

I do agree that exceptions can be a slippery slope, and certainly don’t think all US elections warrant exception. This one has potential to accelerate harm globally and is occurring in one of the most powerful countries in the world. US citizens can influence its outcome. This election will have global ramifications spanning generations. If some do not feel this is a moral imperative, that’s okay, but I am not sure why downvoting my post would feel like the appropriate course of action.

Sorry for not engaging with the links you posted. I have had cybersecurity issues and have been advised to be more careful about clicking on unfamiliar links and to avoid certain forums. This is a bummer, as I really enjoyed some of that content .

I have had cybersecurity issues and have been advised to be more careful about clicking on unfamiliar links and to avoid certain forums. 

Someone told you not to go on lesswrong for cybersecurity reasons?

That was my interpretation, though the specific forums in question were not named directly so I cannot be certain.

Wow, this went from a karma level 8 to a 1 in under an hour.

I typically view this forum as a place where civil discourse ought to be, and often is, encouraged. This downvoting feels a bit like a unique form of censorship.

I would love to understand how people are thinking about this.

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