TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos took to the stage at Disrupt NY today with Stuart Ellman from RRE Ventures, Maha Ibrahim from Canaan Partners and Amish Jani of FirstMark Capital to talk about Trump, the economy and Uber.
Apart from Peter Thiel, most venture capitalists were adamantly opposed to the idea of a Trump presidency during the U.S. election last year. But now that we are a few months into the new administration, Loizos asked the panel to discuss what the political climate means for their business.
“I think the tax rates are going to continue to help the stock market in many ways,” said Ellman, who believes that the proposed lower corporate taxes will be good for business. He also hopes that the administration follows through on promises for less regulation, which could benefit startups. “The ability to start companies and have fewer obstacles set in front of you by the government” would be a good thing, he argued.
But Ibrahim voiced concerns about immigration restrictions, something that we’ve been hearing a lot from venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. A reduction of the H1-B visas used for high-skilled laborers would be a “terrible thing,” she said. “They live off immigration” in Silicon Valley.
Jani echoed her sentiments. “The catalyst of these businesses are typically immigrants and people from different backgrounds coming here.”
Ellman also agreed that immigration is pivotal to the tech community. “Technology has always been the one place where it’s always about merit… it’s not who you are and not what you’ve done, it’s what you can do.”
The panelists were also asked about the health of the startup ecosystem. Lately it has been harder for some startups to make it to the next step of funding. Valuations had gotten carried away and there is always the fear of a bust like we saw in the dot-com days.
Ellman said he’s “extraordinarily bullish,” but acknowledged that it’s “been one of the longest bull markets since 1929,” which often means it’s time for a downturn.
“It’s not a matter of if, but of when,” said Ibrahim, about an impending downward cycle. The industry has been bracing for eventual fallout. But it’s not going to be Uber that goes bust, she predicted. “I don’t think it’s going to fail,” she said, expecting that consumers will continue to use the service.
They also acknowledged that advancements in the industry will cause job losses throughout the world.
“There’s no question robotics and artificial intelligence are going to change a large class of jobs,” said Ellman. “History shows that technological advantages are going to cause long-term displacement in the labor markets.”
Jani agreed that it would cause job loss, but doesn’t think we’ve seen anything like it before. “It’s happening at a pace that is unprecedented.”