Subscriber Survey

Eighty per cent of subscribers unlikely to accept funding with ties to Saudi Arabia

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
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Following the alleged torture and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in October, The Logic subscribers said they’d be reluctant to accept funding with ties to the kingdom.

Eighty per cent of The Logic’s subscribers who responded to the October survey said they’d be unlikely to accept funding from a venture capitalist with ties to Saudi Arabia if it was offered. About 36 per cent said they would be extremely unlikely to do so, while around 42 per cent would be somewhat unlikely.

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“[Saudi Arabia] tried to bully Canada and are actively allied with Donald Trump, not to mention Yemen and Khashoggi,” one subscribe wrote. “In short, they’re assholes and I would want nothing to do with them.”

Another subscriber cited their identity as reason to decline funding: “As a gay man, I wouldn’t accept it—I’d be put to death upon going to Saudi for meetings or status updates.” In Saudi Arabia law, homosexuality is still a criminal offence, punishable by death.

Khashoggi’s alleged murder has led to a reckoning in Silicon Valley’s tech sector, where Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars. That includes US$45 billion to SoftBank’s US$93-billion Vision Fund, the largest venture fund of all time, which has made significant investments in many of the biggest U.S. tech startups, such as WeWork, Slack, Uber and Lyft. Several tech leaders pulled out of the advisory board for Neom, Saudi Arabia’s planned megacity, including Apple design chief Jony Ive and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff. Business leaders have also distanced themselves from the kingdom—several CEOs, including SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, dropped out of the Saudi “Davos in the desert” conference in late October.

Also in late October, Canada joined the United States and the United Kingdom—the two biggest Saudi arms suppliers—in publicly calling for a Saudi ceasefire in Yemen. As a result of the conflict, which has spanned more than three and a half years, half of Yemen’s 28 million people may soon be completely reliant on aid for survival. Aid groups have called it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Methodology

The results are from The Logic’s third subscriber survey. A private link was sent to subscribers by email and the survey was conducted online. All respondents were kept anonymous and duplicates were removed as needed. Our subscribers were asked to provide responses to a series of questions through a rating scale. The full text of this question was: “In light of recent events, imagine you were offered funding from a venture capitalist with ties to Saudi Arabia. How likely would you be to accept it?”

Canada had its own tension with Saudi Arabia this past summer, in a Twitter spat that escalated into a diplomatic crisis. After Canada’s foreign ministry called for Samar Badawi, the detained Saudi human-rights activist, to be freed, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador and froze trade with the country.

Others subscribers were less concerned about accepting funding from the kingdom. One said, “Truthfully, it depends how much the funding is needed and how hard it has been to get.” Another said they would accept the funding, contingent on there being “no strings attached.”

“Money is money, but I’d have lawyers examine what escape clauses I have,” commented a subscriber.

In total, less than 16 per cent of subscribers said they’d be likely to accept the funding. About nine per cent said they’d be somewhat likely, while around six per cent said they’d be extremely likely.