LinkedIn billionaire backs Smartmatic – who’s battling Fox News over 2020 election coverage

Billionaires

Reid Hoffman has invested in election technology company Smartmatic, as it sues Fox News and Newsmax over false claims of vote-rigging in the 2020 election.
LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman participates in a debate on August 23, 2017 at LinkedIn in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for LinkedIn)
Key Takeaways
  • LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, worth US$2.5 billion, has made a multimillion-dollar investment in Smartmatic, an election technology company, with the investment intended to help fund the company’s lawsuit against Fox News and Newsmax.
  • One of Hoffman’s advisors, Dmitri Melhorn, told The Washington Post the investment was broadly in line with Hoffman’s ethos of providing capital to ‘protect the rule of law’.
  • Smartmatic sued Fox News in the wake of the 2020 election, after it repeatedly showed far-right figures promoting now-debunked claims that Smartmatic rigged the election by flipping millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
  • A trial date has not yet been set for Smartmatic’s suit against Fox News.
Big number

US$2.7 billion (AU$4 billion). That’s how much Smartmatic is seeking from its defamation suit against Fox News. The company is arguing that its business and future prospects were hurt by comments made on the network. Hoffman’s advisor Dmitri Melhorn estimated the company could be worth US$400 million had it not been for Fox News airing claims it rigged voting.

But, Smartmatic is also facing Fox News’ counterclaims that the defamation case is intended to suppress free speech. We don’t know how much Hoffman invested into Smartmatic, but reports say its a ‘multimillion-dollar’ capital injection.

Key background

Last year, Fox News and voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems reached a settlement in their high-profile defamation case, with Fox paying out US$787.5 million (AU$1.17 billion). Similar to the case with Smartmatic, the lawsuit involved whether Fox was liable for airing false claims that Dominion’s ballot-counting machines were used to manipulate the outcome of the 2020 US election.

“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and the customers that we serve. Nothing can ever make up for that,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said at the time.

Smartmatic has had success before – it recently resolved its litigation against conservative cable television network, One America News, over its coverage of the 2020 election, though the amount remains undisclosed.

Crucial quote

“The 2024 election is the biggest election in earth’s history, and the market is massive, and Smartmatic was built to seize it, and they’ve spent the last four years dealing with a coordinated and orchestrated smear campaign. They could be a $400 million company right now if not for the slander and the smears,” Dmitri Mehlhorn told The Washington Post.

Tangent

Rupert Murdoch, who’s net worth is estimated to be US$19.6 billion (AU$29.1 billion), stepped down from his role as chairman in September 2023. Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, runs the new Fox, which consists of its broadcast, cable news, business and sports networks.

The 93-year-old billionaire also recently wed retired molecular biologist Elena Zhukova in his fifth union, following his 2022 divorce from supermodel Jerry Hall.

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