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Five core topics Trump needs to address in Silicon Valley leaders meeting

Tim Greene | Dec. 13, 2016
Trump’s rhetoric indicates his policies could hurt the health of the tech sector

If he makes it more difficult to find skilled workers and more expensive to hire eligible H-1B workers, that could change hiring strategies. It’s possible tech companies might move more jobs overseas where wages are lower, which would be the opposite of what Trump says he wants.

Any change will alter the behavior of high-tech businesses, and that could have an impact on the cost of products and the speed of product development. Ultimately it could affect the competitiveness of these companies, at least in the short term.

The tech leaders meeting with Trump need to get an answer so they can prepare for a new way of doing business, whatever it turns out to be, and avoid the damaging downsides.

How will Trump’s China policy affect sale of U.S. tech products and protection of U.S. intellectual property?

China has already fallen into Trump’s crosshairs on economic issues, notably manipulating the value of its currency, and it looks like he’s willing to go to the mat on other issues given that he is threatening to renege on the U.S. one-China policy that doesn’t acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign state. He’s come out against China’s disregard for the intellectual property and copyrights of U.S. companies.

If Trump is successful, the results could be good for U.S. tech companies, which China has allegedly hacked in the past, whose intellectual property has been reverse engineered and whose software has been pirated.

But tech leaders need to hear how Trump will negotiate these outcomes because China’s response could hurt them. China could resume its ban on U.S. companies doing businesses with the Chinese government, as it did with Apple and Cisco in 2015. Given the size of the Chinese market, restrictions or even all-out bans on U.S. technology sales could have a huge impact on the bottom lines of tech companies.

They need to hear Trump’s explanation of how he plans to proceed and what safeguards he is considering to protect the interests of Silicon Valley businesses and those of every U.S. company that has come to rely on China as a major source of sales revenues.

Will he kill Net neutrality?

A 3-2 vote of the Federal Communications Commission this year prohibits service providers from blocking or throttling back traffic, and from offering high-priority service for a fee, but that could change with a single Trump appointee to the commission. Just a one-vote swing could undo the new rule.

This is important to the providers who are directly affected. Backbone providers would be able to charge more for priority service and to throttle best-effort service to make paying for priority service more palatable. That ability to charge more for faster internet might be attractive to some classes of service provider.

 

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