Number 2: Some of those I spoke to said that the Trump transition staff — led by investor Peter Thiel and others — has been much more engaged than previous administrations in reaching out. More so, several insist, than the Obama administration and also the Bush folks.
This I believe less. I think it is that they are more surprised that there is outreach at all from those whom they very much opposed and from someone who had been pretty hostile to tech overall in the campaign. After you slime someone as not so cool (see Elon Musk, see Jeff Bezos, oh, see a bunch of them), it’s always a bit of a shock to get an invite to the tower and free branded water instead of a cudgel in the dungeon.
Still, they are feeling paid mind to, which they love; they think that there is a dialogue that is starting to take place, which they cling to like there is no tomorrow (even though there might not be!).
“We discussed substantive issues at the meeting,” said one person at the recent tech leaders’ confab with Trump. “And Trump seemed fully engaged with our suggestions.”
Yeah, he’s good at giving the people what they want, for sure. “We’ll get right on that!” “We’ll fix that!” “My guy will call your guy!” It is probably a relief from the smarty-pants Obama people who actually raised reasonable objections and wanted to debate the issues.
Number 3: In that vein, it is clear that the Trump cabal is aiming to either deregulate or make it easier to play in already regulated industries. This is nothing but good for the we-love-to-disrupt crowd of tech, because they don’t have to contend with all the prickly regulators that get in the way of a good time. So a self-driving car runs a red light, big whoop! Privatizing space would be really smart, because Mars living is cool! Social media giants should not be held responsible for fake news, because, um, well, just because! Guns don’t kill people, people … wait that is another industry.
“We can grow faster with an administration that is friendlier to business,” said one leader, “and then raise our specific objections when they get out of line on social and other issues.”
See Chamberlain above, which now feels a little less rude.
Number 4: That is also the expected behavior toward the some key agencies in the federal government that pertain more to tech interests, such as the FDA and the FAA. Silicon Valley has gotten a lot of push back and slow down from both these agencies, which has been vexing to some involved in digital healthcare, self-driving cars, drones and more. A faster-moving and possibly defanged group of overseers here is better for tech, which often pushes the borders in good ways (see Color Genomics) and bad (see Theranos).
Number 5: It’s the same thing with contending with overseas markets, of course. Despite fears of a damaging trade war across the world, which is usually not good for anyone, there is also some solace from the idea that the Trump people could push back hard against foreign governments where U.S. tech has had some trouble. That’s clearly true in China, where very few have gained any significant foothold.
Consider Facebook — while it will not give a timeline, most insiders acknowledge that it will eventually enter the market in order to maintain its massive growth. And when it does, it’s got to have more than its nifty messaging service to deal with the Chinese. Or Google in Europe — while President Obama has defended it there (see my interview here with him) from all sorts of monopoly and privacy allegations, I’d expect Trump to be even more vociferous.
“He seems intent on leveling the playing field in overseas markets and that’s good,” says one person.
Number 6: One of the more surprising responses I got from leaders I talked to was that a Trump administration might mean more unusual selections for key jobs across government. “He has some awful picks and then some ones that make you think that maybe an outsider can make a difference in that muck of D.C.,” said one person, who pointed to Trump’s secretary of state choice, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.