Tech Tent: Tech gets ready for Trump

By Sam Edem

Source: BBC

It's safe to say that in Silicon Valley tech companies big and small you'd struggle to find many people who owned up to voting for Donald Trump last November. But an industry which tends to have an optimistic view of the world is already adapting to a political landscape very different from the one it expected.

Michael Birch
Image captionBirch: "Accept the cards you are dealt"

On this week's Tech Tent, we report from San Francisco on the mood amongst the tech community as the Trump presidency looms. When I visited the offices of Monkey Inferno, which houses three firms owned by the entrepreneur Michael Birch, I found people just getting on with the job - even on a Saturday.

Sure, they had been shocked by the election result. One woman said the mood had been very dark the morning after, and even compared it to 9/11. A man explained that they had all expected from their Twitter feeds that a Hillary Clinton victory was guaranteed, then added: "We're in a kind of bubble in the tech industry.You would have said, like, Hillary is for sure going to win. And then, the next day Trump wins and you kind of wonder what's the rest of America like?"

Michael Birch, who arrived here from Britain 15 years ago and made his fortune from the Bebo social network, admitted that the tech industry was very worried about what Donald Trump had said on the campaign trail about immigration. After all, this most globalized of industries relies on recruiting talent from around the world. "But," he says, "it's hard to take anything he says at face value, so I see him doing an about-face on that." He is quite optimistic that the new President will listen to Silicon Valley.

Kara Swisher
Image captionSwisher: Tech people need to be outspoken

Birch, who's now an American citizen, says the tech sector is resilient to change, and has the ability to innovate around Trump: "In some ways it's bizarrely shaking things up and making people innovate. You've got to accept the cards you're dealt and make the most of them."

Across town we met the doyenne of American tech journalism, Kara Swisher, who has never been afraid to speak her mind. She says one concern is Trump's complete ignorance of tech.

And the co-founder of the tech blog Recode had harsh words for what she saw as the somewhat cowardly tech leaders who trooped into Trump Tower for a meeting before Christmas.

"They skulked in and skulked out," she says. "I felt they should have said something."

"The people in tech are amongst the most powerful and wealthy people on the planet," she adds. "They have an ability to impact things and they need to be outspoken."

She points to Donald Trump's expert use of Twitter and wonders why the tech bosses can't be as effective on social media: "They have a President who's using the tools they built to attack and bully people - so why can't tech be outspoken or at least express what they think is important?"

Trump tech meetingImage copyrightAFP
Image captionTech bosses met Donald Trump in early December

That's our lead story this week, but we also take the 10th anniversary of the iPhone launch as our inspiration for a discussion with Paul Lee, head of tech research at Deloitte, about where the smartphone revolution heads next.

And as Nintendo unveils the launch date and price of its new console, Chris Foxx gets a first hands-on with the Switch. All of that, plus the other tech news headlines, in a fun-packed show - grab the podcast while it's fresh.