Tech leaders respond to upcoming Trump presidency

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Tech leaders respond to upcoming Trump presidency

No matter which side of the aisle you’re on it’s clear that in next four years technology will be taking center stage. Politics are now less about relationships between people and more about relationships between computers and no matter who you voted for we believe tech is truly leading the way.

Many of us are looking for a sense of clarity and understanding that will help us move forward into the uncertainty of the next four years.

With that in mind, we’ve reached out to as many ‘big league’ tech minds as possible to get their thoughts and advice for the road ahead.


Fred Wilson, USV

I am disappointed both personally and professionally. On a personal level, I find his attitude towards minorities, immigrants, women, handicapped people, etc to be repugnant and I am embarrassed as a citizen of the USA to to have such a leader. On a professional level, my partners and I feel that he is not an ideal leader for the challenges we face with our economy and the in the tech sector.



Fred Wilson, USV (cont'd)

While the financial markets may be in for a tough time, possibly a prolonged tough time, there is no correlation between startup success and strong financial markets. And those investors who understand that will act accordingly and be rewarded over the long term for doing so.

For entrepreneurs, this means be cautious and maybe even a bit conservative while all of this shakes out but don’t panic and don’t confuse uncertain times with a lack of opportunity. If you were excited about your business yesterday, you should be excited about your business today. But don’t be blind about the macro environment you are operating in. It’s going to be choppy for a bit here.



Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code

Yes, Love Will Trump Hate if we continue our resolve. We have to be brave and remember that our girls’ dreams do not and will not be deferred. And while that last glass ceiling eluded us last night, its not over yet. Our journey may have just begun.

We can feel hopeless today but we must soldier on tomorrow. Our children are depending on it.

For my part, once I can see straight, I plan on teaching more girls to code, going deeper in my quest to fight income inequality, and sharpening my commitment to women and girls. I hope you too will ask yourself what you will do to help bring people together. Change will come but we have to be strong for ourselves, our children and those who are depending on us.

I am giving you my gift of grit. A gift I received from the woman who remains my role model, my biggest girl crush, the woman who I learned more from than anyone else, Hillary Clinton.  Thank you Hillary for everything you have taught us. We love you. And thanks to all our friends and family who supported Hillary and our quest to elect the first female President. We are forever grateful to you.

[via Twitter]


Sean Rad, Tinder

We need to remember America is the world’s greatest democracy. Regardless of whom you voted for, it’s important to respect the decision of the American collective. Rather than being bitter, we should start looking forward and focusing on productive ways to ensure that the new administration will listen to all points of views and make the best decisions accordingly.


Bradley Tusk, Tusk Holdings

In a memo to portfolio companies, Bradley Tusk pointed out the upsides to a Trump presidency:

The odds of seeing activist, tough-on-business, cabinet members who aggressively pursue regulatory action are lower. This also means that pending mergers are far more likely to be approved, charter schools will not face federal opposition, the sharing economy will not risk being shut down by new federal worker classification regulations, the SEC will not aggressively involve itself in private, illiquid companies and assets, and peer-to-peer lending will not face significant federal opposition, among many, many other issues.


Aaron Levie, Box

This was very disheartening and disenfranchising for many of our people. Our community is built on people that come from lots of different places from all over the world. As a community, we have to band together and basically work on making sure that a lot of this rhetoric and divisiveness are not fulfilled. We have a lot of work to do now to try and come together as a country. The next couple of years I think are going to be incredibly important to the long-term thriving of our economy and our ability to stay ahead. 


Anjula Acharia Bath, Trinity Ventures

Devastated, I feel like we are regressing our country has openly voted for the oppression of LGBT’s, minorities’, & women’s rights.

[via Twitter]


Patricia Nakache, Trinity Ventures

Personally I am disappointed that we did not elect our first woman president. I was hoping this was the year I could turn to my daughter and say “See?  You really can be anything you want to be in this country!”.  But at the same time, I think it’s important that we learn from this election.  I refuse to believe that Trump supporters are xenophobic, sexist and racist; I think this is a wake up call regarding the number of people under deep economic duress, feeling that they have no opportunity to improve their lives, and angry at the establishment.  We need to figure out how to help them.

Like many people, I was shocked by the outcome of the election, but I was even more shocked at how out of touch the mainstream media clearly was with popular sentiment.  In Silicon Valley we are in a similar echo chamber, and I think investors may also be out of touch with what lots of consumers and businesses need to improve their lives.  For example, I am an investor and on the board of ThredUP that sells like-new clothing at deep discounts.  Initially many in Silicon Valley were highly skeptical that people would buy second hand clothing, that that could become a mainstream behavior, but ThredUP has been embraced by women across the country for whom saving money is really important.  What else do people who are struggling to make ends meet need?  For example, how about a “Sofi for the 99%”?

I think we should be prepared for a big wave of deregulation, which is a two-edged sword.  Some startups and sectors that are taking advantage of regulations and government subsidies like cleantech may find themselves in a less attractive position.  On the other hand deregulation may reduce barriers and cost of entry for other startups in sectors like health insurance.

Startups that import products from overseas, especially China, should consider diversifying their sourcing since tariffs may go up. The security tech sector should get a boost on multiple fronts.

John Borthwick, betaworks

We know technology is upending our society — however, the unintended consequences of this disruption are rarely discussed.  Some examples: this election was profoundly affected by the new news system — ie: the distribution of algorithmic, de-contextualized news, filtered by my biases and interests with no clear source.  Or by how ecommerce is reshaping shopping or by the shift to Gig economy, by ad-tech, by social media in general, by wiki-leaks… It’s a long list.  But technology is the one word I would use to describe why this happened.  And we need technology leaders / entrepreneurs who recognize this impact and are ready to discuss it.  We are not just in the business of making toys for distraction — we are creating a new world and technology is shaping it, and its shape, the design choices we make, have consequences.


John Borthwick, betaworks (cont'd)

I want to work with leaders and entrepreneurs who want to think about these effects.  All too often today the consequences of technology on our society are side bars at conferences, or policy problems to solve, or inconveniences on the way to an exit event.   We can do better than that — this election says to me — we have to do better than that.   

I want to work with people who are interested in discussing how their social media feeds are reshaping news — before we discuss revenue sharing.  In how the Gig economy is going to impact full or partial employment.  Our society, our democracy was created by people who cared about these things — as we recreate our world, we need to consider the effect of technology. I consider this the beginning — the impact technology is going to have on the rest of our lives, over the next 10 years is going to be even more profound. As we start to create virtual worlds, as mixed reality alters objective reality, the hall of mirrors we are living in is only going to become more complex.


Matt Turck, FirstMark Capital

Sadly, I’m not 100% surprised.  One thing that struck me early in this election cycle is that I know literally zero Trump supporter (at least declared).  Most of us in the tech community read the same press, share the same values and often live in the same cities.  There’s a whole other world out there, with whom we have essentially no overlap, and which could care less about the New York Times’ smart analysis or what my tech friends say to each other on Twitter.

It is too early to have a sense of what the impact might be.  But taking a step back, it makes it even more obvious that the tech world has a deep responsibility to think about the social consequences of the technologies we create.  AI, robots and other forms of automation will have an impact on people who are already disenfranchised and may not be able to re-skill quickly enough.  Last time the world experienced an evolution of this magnitude (the industrial revolution), we ended up with two world wars.


Alan Patricof, Greycroft Partners

I am clearly disappointed not just because I feel Donald Trump is unqualified to be president , but because I sincerely believe Hillary Clinton would have been a GREAT president. In terms of the tech/VC world, clearly he is not a big fan of allowing foreign students to remain here after their studies nor to have open borders to encourage foreigners to settle here and gain citizenship. I have been told that a large percentage (perhaps as much as 70% of the patent filings in the US) have been filed by immigrants and that would put that technical achievement in jeopardy. I would urge other VCs and entrepreneurs to get involved politically , particularly at this time to play some role in influencing the new administration right at the outset when they are open to new creative thinking. This is the best way to make sure they get constructive inputs at the highest level. This could impact immigration policy, tax matters, R&D issues etc.


Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Congratulations to . I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.

[via Twitter]


Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One

If Trump wins I am announcing and funding a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation. Most patriotic thing to do is to questioning idea of a federation of states & calling a new constitutional convention for systemic change. It’s the most patriotic thing we can do. Country is at serious crossroads. We can reenter the union after California becomes a nation. As 6th largest economy in world, economic engine of nation, provider of a large % of federal budget, California carries a lot of weight. We need to have serious national dialogue about our culture, values & rampant sexism, racism and hate that Trump campaign has exposed. Calling for a temporary withdrawal of support during the dark Trump Presidency. Re-entry after a constitutional convention convened.


Mark Zuckerberg

Last night was Max’s first election. She’s got a lot of election nights ahead of her.

Holding Max, I thought about all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children. This work is bigger than any presidency and progress does not move in a straight line. The most important opportunities of Max’s generation — like curing all disease, improving education, connecting everyone and promoting equal opportunity — will take long term focus and finding new ways for all of us to work together, sometimes over decades.

We are all blessed to have the ability to make the world better, and we have the responsibility to do it. Let’s go work even harder.feeling hopeful.

[via Facebook]


Dave Morin

I don’t know what the right path forward is for the left. We have a lot of learning to do. But I do know I believe deeply in America. This is going to be hard. Not easy. But America will come out better. We will be grateful on the other side looking back of this time.

[via Twitter]

Morin also wrote a blog post on Medium.


Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners

So life will go on. The tech world’s sound and fury will abate as we all get on with our lives and our work. The micro always trumps (too soon?) the macro. The idea and the team are always more important than the economy or the unemployment rate or the trade deficit in determining a startups success. The startup world will recover and thrive, just as it did after the bubble burst in 2000 and after the global financial crisis of 2008. The nation will recover and thrive.

[via Extranewsfeed]


Elizabeth Clarkson, Sapphire VC

We are all living with new uncertainties. Nevertheless, we believe that will not stop entrepreneurs from innovating and seeking locations and funding sources receptive to the message.


Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures

Sensible people need to fight back and hold ground and offer competing solutions and hold the media accountable and start preparing for mid-term elections.

But mostly I want those who reached out to me last night on Twitter and who come from backgrounds where they are a minority: African Americans, Muslims, gay people, Jews, women, Latinos and so forth. America isn’t against you.

There are 59 million people like me who voted for a progressive and tolerant future. We have demographics on our side. As the population ages our youth will be more tolerant and more cultural.

But the real work we need to do is to persuade enough of the other 59 million people — including Latinos, African Americans and Millennials — that voting matters and that choices have consequences. I know in my bones that a large percentage of these 59 million are not intolerant people. But I also know there is a hardcore, non-trivial amount who are. We need to separate these groups.

[via Both Sides of the Table]


Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square

This country was founded on one self-evident and undeniable truth: all people are created equal. We all must hold each other, especially the leaders we put in power, accountable to that truth. We are one country, and we have one goal: provide for the common good. We must question anything that gets in the way of that. I commit to using the privilege I currently have to always speak this truth to power, and to ensure the common good leads everything we do.

[via Twitter]


Chris Sacca

We in the tech community are willing to work with President-Elect Trump to help those Americans who need it most. The door is open.

[via Twitter]


Max Levchin, Affirm

To foster a better relationship with the tech community, Trump should:

– make it clear that rights and protections for all people, and especially minorities, matter to his presidency
– promote education and training to end unconscious biases in government and private sector
– encourage and celebrate entrepreneurship and industry participation among women and minorities

– balance border security efforts with finding reasonable solutions for illegal immigrants, and enabling visa access for skilled foreigners

– emphasize STEM and digital literacy in early education
– support individual and corporate privacy protections, and information security initiatives
– simplify dealing with government agencies and regulators such as FDA, USPTO, Department of Commerce, SBA to speed up new market entries
– invest in modernization of the government agencies and partner with the private sector to accomplish it in a cost-effective manner
– apply thoughtful deregulation to enable innovation without losing important consumer and small business protections
– speak out in favor of open standards, and respect for intellectual property
– negotiate and support international trade agreements that open market access for American businesses
– support creation of new sources of capital such as crowdfunding and impact investing
– include nationwide access to broadband as a goal in infrastructure spending



Rebecca Lynn, Canvas Ventures

I was dismayed and shocked by the election result. I was born and raised in the Midwest so shouldn’t have been so surprised. We in Silicon Valley can be out of touch with Middle America and sometimes forget we live in an echo chamber. There are divergent views out there in the heartland.


Bilal Zuberi, Lux

The thing that gives me most hope for our country are our scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. They are building the world we want to live in. I hope the new administration will be welcoming of immigrants who are the most entrepreneurial people, and will support science and innovation.


Ginni Rometty, IBM

I am writing to offer ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated and that can advance a national agenda in a time of profound change. I do so as the leader of the nation’s largest technology employer, its leading patent creator, and the company that for more than 105 years has believed that prosperity and progress can be achieved by unleashing the potential of all people. Permit me to offer a few specific suggestions:

Creating “New Collar” Jobs
Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree; at some of our centers in the United States, as many as one third of employees have less than a four-year degree. What matters most is relevant skills, sometimes obtained through vocational training. In addition, we are creating and hiring to fill “new collar” jobs – entirely new roles in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence and cognitive business.

You’ve spoken about the importance of vocational education, and we agree. IBM has championed a new educational model for the United States – six-year public high schools that combine traditional education with the best of community colleges, mentoring, and real-world job experience. The first of these schools opened with IBM’s support 5 years ago in New York; we have hired some of the first graduates. There will soon be 100 such schools across the country. With your support, we could do much more. Let’s work together to scale up this approach of vocational training, creating a national corps of skilled workers trained to take the “new collar” IT jobs that are in demand here in America.

Building Intelligent, Secure Infrastructure
You’ve said we need to invest in America’s infrastructure, and we agree. As we build big, let’s also build smart. The country should focus on infrastructure investments that incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence to improve performance. And as infrastructure gets smarter, it also increases the need for cybersecurity, so that vital networks cannot be compromised. We recommend that your infrastructure package include incentives for states and localities to build intelligent – and secure – roads, bridges, buildings, and other public facilities.

Healthcare: Applying Lessons from Private Sector Experience
IBM operates one of the largest employer-sponsored health plans in the United States. In 2009, IBM offered 15 specific ideas for how America could save more than $900 billion over ten years through common-sense reforms to the healthcare system, leveraging lessons learned in the private sector. These included using data analytics to reduce fraudulent Medicare claims, improving the exchange of healthcare information among providers, and leveraging the government’s purchasing power to lower the cost of drugs and care. IBM will update its recommendations for the healthcare system and hopes to work with Congress and your HHS Secretary to drive better healthcare at lower cost.

Using Data to Fight Government Waste and Inefficiency
Eight years ago, IBM helped lead an effort to identify $1 trillion in savings the federal government could achieve through using advanced data analytics, data center consolidation, and the use of cloud technologies to improve the cybersecurity of key government systems. As part of the Technology CEO Council of which I am a member, we will prepare an updated set of recommendations for how you could use technology and fraud analytics to save the government more than $1 trillion.

Bringing Money Home to Invest in America
IBM supports your proposal to make American’s tax system more competitive. Many billions of dollars of American companies’ earnings do not come home because of an outdated and punitive tax system. Your tax reform proposal will free up capital that companies of all sizes can reinvest in their U.S. operations, training and education programs for their employees, and research and development programs. We will support the efforts of your administration and Congress to pass tax reform early in 2017.

Taking Care of Our Veterans – With the World’s Best Technology
All of us at IBM share your gratitude and devotion to the men, women and families who serve our country. More must be done to give our vets the best medical care possible. So we recently announced a pilot program with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help its oncologists treat 10,000 veterans through the power of precision medicine and genomic analysis powered by IBM’s cognitive computing system, Watson. We hope to work with your VA Secretary to expand this collaboration.

Mr. President-elect, IBM’s roots are in the United States. We are investing, hiring, and continuing to reinvent our company for long-term competitiveness. At more than 50 major locations across the country, we hired more U.S. employees last year than in the previous five years. We are opening new innovation centers and business units across the country. We are proud of the work we do here in the United States, just as we are proud of the work we do in more than 175 countries around the world.

In the years ahead there will be issues on which we agree, and issues on which we do not. But as you prepare to take office as our new president, I hope the ideas I have offered in this letter represent ways that we can work together to achieve prosperity that is broadly shared in our society.

[via IBM]