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US tech investor Joe Lonsdale refuses to apologise for ‘loser’ paternity tweet

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<span>Photograph: Brian Ach/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Brian Ach/Getty Images

A multimillionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist has refused to apologise for calling men in “important positions” who take six months paternity leave “losers”.

Joe Lonsdale, a founder of software giant Palantir Technologies, made the comment on Twitter in response to Pete Buttigieg, the US transportation secretary, taking time off to care for his newborn twins.

“Any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser,” Lonsdale said late on Wednesday. “In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future – that’s the correct masculine response.”

On Thursday, Lonsdale, a 39-year-old father of three, said several chief executives were “trolling” him for his comments, but refused to apologise and repeated his claim.

“Over ten CEOs so far today trolling me by explaining they are about to take six months off to spend with their families. Love you guys,” he said.

“Nothing is more important than our families*. Am excited to get home to Tayler and my girls tmrw after a short trip. *(But really, 6 months?).”

Lonsdale, a regular critic of “woke” politics and a close friend of Peter Thiel, a conservative billionaire and cofounder of Palantir and PayPal, was criticised by many other Silicon Valley executives.

Alexis Ohanian, a cofounder of Reddit who is married to Serena Williams, said: “The correct masculine response is to do whatever it takes for your family and newborn. No one should have to choose between the ICU/NICU [newborn intensive care unit] and keeping their job.”

Garry Tan, a cofounder of the venture capital firm Initialized Capital, said: “Initialized has 4 months leave, and I took all 4 months to make sure everyone at Initialized felt like they could do it.

“Respect that people have different choices, but being a dad is awesome and there is more to life than work and money.”

Palantir, which was founded with support from the CIA in 2003, has been linked to efforts to track undocumented migrant workers in the US.

The company was granted a £23m contract to work with the NHS during the pandemic. The firm analyses large volumes of data to find insights, patterns and connections.

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