Joe Lonsdale, a founder of Palantir Technologies Inc. and a prolific venture capitalist, stoked a debate on Twitter about parental leave, saying any prominent man who takes six months off with his newborn is “a loser.”
It was in response a tweet by Pete Buttigieg about the U.S. Transportation secretary, who had to take time off to look after his child. Joe Rogan also criticised the comment.
Among the many responses to Lonsdale’s post Wednesday, the founders of another venture capital firm, Initialized, offered a rebuke. Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian defended the four-month parental policy. Tan claimed he was taking the leave, and that he hoped his staff would too.
A father of three, Lonsdale is a regular critic of “woke” politics. Peter Thiel is an associate and long-time friend of Lonsdale, a powerful conservative billionaire. Lonsdale’s venture investments include Flexport Inc., Joby Aviation Inc. and Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook Inc. Lonsdale also co-founded the Cicero Institute advocacy group, which is focused on health care, criminal justice, and other issues.
Lonsdale left Silicon Valley for Austin last year after he was dissatisfied with San Francisco leaders. Also, he found himself attracted by the liberal gun laws in Texas and lack of personal income taxes. Although Austin is not the most conservative city in Texas, it’s not the least.
Despite his reputation, the response to Lonsdale’s message Wednesday was unusually strong and mostly negative. Later on Twitter, he said using the word loser was “uncalled for,” but he doubled down on the importance of maintaining traditional gender roles.