With a new President-elect already shaking up the political sphere with Cabinet and agency picks, many are wondering what the new U.S. administration is going to mean for the tech industry. Markets have swung in both directions since the election, and calling a close forecast of what to expect from the new administration’s financial or policy positions has been deemed an impossible endeavor from many major publications.
Silicon Valley has enjoyed a relaxed relationship with the federal government over the past 8 years of the Obama presidency. In fact, the White House even hired former Google personnel to slide into the newly-created chief technology officer position. And the current (and departing) administration partnered closely with big firms from Facebook to Apple to Snapchat to meet specific objectives.
The pendulum swung both ways, too: many Obama staff members now sit on lofty seats with companies such as Uber and Amazon. Bearing all this in mind, we decided we’d dig deep and collate some significant pointers of what the tech industry might be able to expect over the next 4 years.
Trump Against the Tech Industry
According to multiple sources, President-elect Trump has already had significant stand-offs with Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos, and this leaves many speculating if Zuckerberg might be the next notable target. And after grim allegations pinning Trump’s success on fake news sites (supported by some estimates that fake news was shared compared to legitimate news at a ratio of 4:1), Zuckerberg has released statements saying that Facebook will be trying to curtail the spread of fake news on Facebook. As many pro-Trump sources are increasingly being labeled fake news, this brings Facebook into the direct line of fire.
Couple this with the fact that the President-elect has blasted many tech giants for manufacturing overseas, and made promises to expel many immigrants (at a time when a significant portion of tech workers are in Silicone Valley on visas), and it seems that many tech greats are directly in the line of fire.
The responses of industry leaders to these plans have run the gamut. Apple CEO Tim Cook famously sent a memo to all Apple employees reassuring them that the company would do its best to encourage unity and support staff regardless of immigration (or other minority) status.
Some Tech Sectors Affected Differently
Not all tech sectors will be affected the same, of course, and it’s expected that some segments are likely to experience positive growth if the President-elect’s plans come to fruition. Some of these include tech-pharma companies, or U.S.-local manufacturers or those founded locally which produce intangible goods: from organizational suites, pcb design software, to web-based apps. So long as companies in these industries which aren’t likely to be affected by hard-line immigration laws or strict financial repatriation policies, they may find Trump’s proposed pro-business legislation a great asset.
In particular, his stated aims to improve U.S. cyber warfare and security capabilities may be great news, and if his massive proposal to increase military funding goes to tech-based contractors, some companies and stocks are likely to forge upward despite any broad sector downturns.
Trump and tech have had a rocky past; in July, many notable CEOs condemned the President-elect in an open letter. But that doesn’t mean that they might not warm to his policies. Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s staunchest supporters of Trump, has noted that Trump’s proposed investment in utilities and infrastructure might well include massive tech projects (as well as traditional infrastructure), and to perform for tech and other industries like a re-imagined John Galt, clearing odious bureaucratic brush to pave the way for higher productivity. After all, it’s true that traditional manufacturing will never return to the rust belt in prior forms: but that doesn’t mean that financially aggressive, pro-business legislation can’t prevent those human resources from being wasted.