Venture capitalist Tom Perkins apologized on International Holocaust Remembrance Day for comparing attacks on the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans to Kristallnacht.
Perkins, 82, a founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, made the apology Monday evening in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
“I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism,” he said. “This is not the case.”
In a letter to The Wall Street Journal published over the weekend, Perkins wrote: “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’
He ended the letter, saying: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
Perkins told Bloomberg that the letter was “a terrible misjudgment.” He said he has written a letter of apology to the Anti-Defamation League. But, he added, “I do not regret the message at all. Any time the majority starts to demonize any minority, no matter what it is, it is wrong and dangerous.”
His former firm said in a tweet: “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.”
Perkins, whose approximate worth is thought to be around $8 billion, has a penthouse in San Francisco, where a bitter class war is brewing over the impact of rich tech employees on the city’s cost of living, the Daily Mail reported.
The letter references animosity held toward Google employees in San Francisco and an incident in which Perkins’s former wife, author Danielle Steel, was labeled a “snob” in the San Francisco Chronicle for the height of her property’s hedge.
Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” is the German name for a series of deadly pogroms orchestrated by Nazi authorities in 1938 that many historians view as the opening shot of the Nazi genocide.
Perkins, 82, was educated at MIT and received his MBA from Harvard University. He founded Venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1973 and has served as a director on boards of companies including Compaq.
He is also known for developing Hewlett Packard into the giant it is today, owning a 298-foot yacht called the Maltese Falcon, and penning a potboiler titled “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.”