As of this morning, several hours after the U.S. presidential race was called for Donald Trump, some of the tech world’s leading voices had yet to weigh in on what those results could mean for Silicon Valley in particular and innovation in general. But many news outlets are saying the impacts could be disruptive in ways that the otherwise disruption-loving tech sector might not like.
Meanwhile, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel — one of the few high-profile technology sector entrepreneurs to back Trump during the unprecedented 2016 campaign — said today in a statement to Business Insider that the president-elect “has an awesomely difficult task, since it is long past time for us to face up to our country’s problems. We’re going to need all hands on deck.”
Trump had sent a number of worrisome messages to technology industry leaders over the course of the campaign. For example, during Apple’s court battle over the FBI’s order to help it break the security of an iPhone seized after last December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Trump called for an Apple boycott. His stances on tech worker visas, net neutrality and encryption could also have ramifications for tech businesses.
Plans for Cyber Defense Review
In the policy statements on his campaign Web site, Trump has said he wants to order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, introduce a “pro-growth” tax plan and launch a new framework for government regulations, along with an “America-first trade policy.”
Responding to a set of questions on science and technology from Scientific American earlier this fall, Trump has also said he would promote innovation by reducing market and trade barriers, bringing together key stakeholders to determine priorities for research, and examining which federal regulations need to be changes. On a question about his stance on the Internet, he said his administration would not spy on U.S. citizens.
“As for protecting the Internet, any attack on the Internet should be considered a provocative act that requires the utmost in protection and, at a minimum, a proportional response that identifies and then eliminates threats to our Internet infrastructure,” Trump told Scientific American.
Silicon Valley Party Is Probably Over
Throughout the campaign, however, Trump sent a number of other signals to the technology industry. He was criticized by intelligence experts for dismissing their briefings, pointing to Russia’s role in a major hack of the Democratic National Committee. He was also criticized by tech experts in general for debate comments such as “the cyber is becoming so big today.”
Since the vote tally was wrapped up in Trump’s favor, top tech executives like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk have yet to make any comments on their Twitter accounts. Some others, however, have weighed in to express concerns about the future.
“Party is prob over for Silicon Valley for now Trump presidency means recession time,” tweeted Google Analytics advocate Adam Singer. “Startups and big companies alike in trouble. Sad.”
Even before the election results were in, Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said on Twitter he was ready to announce and fund “a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation” should Trump win. He later added that he had just resigned from the Fulbright board because he couldn’t serve in a Trump presidency.
Menlo Ventures managing director Matt Murphy, on the other hand, told the Wall Street Journal today that while the election was a wake-up call, “[t]he main pillars driving innovation — great entrepreneurs, mobile, cloud, AI — are in place and transcend political parties.”