Lastminute.com founders split on Trump dinner | Startup News

Two of the UK’s best known technology entrepreneurs are at odds over their attendance to Trump’s business dinner, widely thought to be taking place at Blenheim Palace this week.

The dinner is part of the US president’s controversial UK visit on 12-13 July and will bring together more than 100 business leaders from across sectors to Winston Churchill’s birthplace.

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The founders of lastminute.com Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman are still friends, but they clearly differ on the politics of attending a dinner celebrating the visit of a man that has enacted strong anti-immigration policies, including separating immigrant children from their parents at the US border, and has made repeated misogynistic comments during his campaign and time in office.

The signs that the two former colleagues were at odds over their invitation to the dinner first arose last week when Lane Fox replied to a tweet asking “why didn’t B also say no?” with an incredulous: “Is he going?” B likely refers to Brent Hoberman.

Lane Fox – who sits on the board at Twitter and is a life peer of the House of Lords – publicly turned down her invite to the dinner, saying: “I understand why the government have to entertain Trump, but I certainly don’t want to.”

Hoberman has ignored Techworld’s emails thus far. However a spokesperson for Founders Factory, the London startup incubator he cofounded with Henry Lane Fox (Martha’s brother), told Techworld that he has been invited and is likely to attend.

Lane Fox and Hoberman are two of the UK’s best known technology entrepreneurs, founding and running one of the first online travel sites – lastminute.com – during the dot com bubble until it was acquired by Sabre Holdings in 2005.

Trump has proved anathema to most of the global technology sector since taking office, as seen when senior US figures started dropping from his business councils after he enacted the controversial ‘Muslim ban’ and his tone deaf response to a neo-Nazi rally in Virginia.

The technology sector is generally politically liberal and is heavily reliant on skilled migrant labour, giving most tech CEOs a strong incentive to distance themselves from his presidency.

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