As California voters weigh two dueling death penalty measures on the Nov. 8 ballot, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the effort to end executions, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some have long been practitioners of so-called conscious capitalism, giving to social causes and ballot measures in support of issues such as education and the environment. This year’s death penalty debate has generated heavier funding and drawn in first-time donors, as contributors say they see potential for change amid waning public opinion of capital punishment.
“It feels like now the time is right,” said Nicholas McKeown, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of four tech companies. “Public opinion has changed a lot, and there’s also the general sense that we need to bring about that change in California so that it sweeps across the country to the Supreme Court and nationwide.” McKeown and Netlfix CEO Reed Hastings have been the two biggest contributors to the cause. Other top donors include Robert Eustace, who was senior vice president of knowledge at Google, and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and founder of Emerson Collective, a nonprofit that advocates for policies on education, immigration reform, and environmental conversation.