Why Silicon Valley is so terrified of Donald Trump

Photo: Getty

Donald Trump has mastered technology when it comes to running a viral campaign on both Twitter and Facebook.

But when it comes to policies related to technology, Silicon Valley leaders have criticised the candidate for not being clear on what his agenda for the industry would be in office.

Trump has been endorsed by one tech luminary, Peter Thiel, but many others in the tech industry have called Trump a “danger to innovation.”

Here’s why many in Silicon Valley feels so threatened by the Trump presidency:

More than 140 Silicon Valley leaders have signed an open letter against Trump, declaring him a 'disaster for innovation'.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a scathing letter, many Silicon Valley CEOs, investors and well-known tech figures (like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, pictured above) slammed the presidential candidate.

'His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy  --  and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth,' the leaders wrote.

PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel has endorsed Trump, but it's tough to find many other open Trump supporters in Silicon Valley.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

During his speech at the Republican National Convention, Thiel said that Trump was the only candidate being honest about the country's 'economic decline.'

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was supposed to host Trump for a dinner at his house but cancelled at the last minute because it 'turned into a fund-raiser.'

It's not easy to find any other well-known tech figures who are openly supporting Trump. Some techies may be keeping their support secret.

Trump has never given the tech industry a bear hug, as other candidates trying to woo the wealthy tech donors have done.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Given the lack of a clear Trump tech agenda, the tech industry has been left to try read the tea leaves based on various comments Trump has made over the years. In many cases, the comments have left techies feeling uneasy.

Trump has flip-flopped on the H1-B visa issue -- a work visa that many tech companies rely on to get foreign talent -- and attacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: Getty Images

On his official campaign website, Trump calls Marco Rubio 'Mark Zuckerberg's personal Senator' and says that 'raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas.'

However, as The Washington Post has detailed extensively, Trump has since flip-flopped multiple times. He has promised to 'end the abuse' of the H-1B program despite having used it himself as an employer. And when it comes to Silicon Valley, Trump both supports taking measures to retain talented foreign workers while also making sure that it can't be used to shut Americans out of the same jobs.

Trump wants to renegotiate 'tech-friendly' trade agreements.

Tom Pennington/Getty

One of Trump's key campaign tenets is renegotiating US-China trade agreements to make free trade into 'fair trade' and taking a hard look at NAFTA (or rip it up entirely).

HP Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman has been outspoken on her position that Trump's trade policies would damage her company.

'I think his policies around free trade will be damaging to businesses as a whole,' said Whitman, a republican, in an interview with CNBC. 'We have to be the most cost-effective competitor in the world. We've got to compete against Huawei, against Lenovo, … so, we've got to be incredibly cost effective.'

He has vowed to force Apple to make the iPhone in the US.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

'I'm going to bring jobs back. I'm going to get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land, not in China,' Trump said in March.

It's not clear how Trump would force Apple to shift to US production for the iPhone, which is currently assembled at third-party facilities in China. But many analysts believe that the plan would carry significant economic and logistical disadvantages for Apple.

He wants Bill Gates and Silicon Valley to work with him on 'closing up the internet' to help stop ISIS.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Trump is in favour of 'closing part of the internet where ISIS is' in order to stop the spread of online radicalism.

In a speech in Texas, in December 2015, Trump ignored concerns that blocking part of the internet would be an infringement on free speech. And he wanted Bill Gates to help him.

'We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way,' Trump said at the time. 'Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.'

He thinks net neutrality will target conservative media and called it a 'top down power grab'.

David McNew/Getty Images

Trump is against the net neutrality rules laid out by the FCC, which ban companies from slowing or blocking internet content to consumers.

In November 2014, Trump had tweeted that Obama's support of net neutrality was another 'top down power grab' and claimed that it would 'target conservative media.'

While net neutrality has nothing to do with the content on the internet, Trump compared it to the 'Fairness Doctrine', an FCC rule that forced to broadcasters to include opposing views on controversial issues of public importance. By calling net neutrality the fairness doctrine, Trump believed it target the conservative online media that doesn't include opposing opinions.

It's presumed that any FCC chair appointed by Trump if he's elected would work to overturn the legislation.

He's attacked Amazon and Jeff Bezos, accusing Bezos of using The Washington Post to keep taxes down at Amazon.

Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon's CEO for his purchase of 'The Washington Post', accusing Bezos of using the paper to control politicians in Washington so Amazon isn't taxed any more.

'I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence,' Trump said during a speech in Texas in February. 'Believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems,' he said of Amazon.

'Amazon is getting away with murder tax-wise. He's using the Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed,' Trump reiterated in May.

Bezos did respond in kind by offering to send him to space on the rocket he's building.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

His comments against women, Mexicans, Muslims, and the LGBT community, continue to infuriate industry leaders who have compared him to Hitler.

Getty Images

Sam Altman, the president of startup incubator Y Combinator, wrote that Trump is 'irresponsible in the way dictators are.'

'Trump's casual racism, misogyny, and conspiracy theories are without precedent among major presidential nominees,' Altman wrote. 'To anyone familiar with the history of Germany in the 1930s, it's chilling to watch Trump in action. Though I know intellectually it's easy in hard economic times to rile people up with a hatred of outsiders, it's still surprising to watch this happen right in front of us.'

Whitman, the HP Enterprise CEO, reportedly compared Trump to leaders like Hitler and Mussolini during a Republican retreat.

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