Tech giants say Trump would be a 'disaster for innovation'

By Brian Fung

From Apple's co-founder to the CEO of Yelp believe Trump will damage the social fabric of the country. Photo / iStock
From Apple's co-founder to the CEO of Yelp believe Trump will damage the social fabric of the country. Photo / iStock

"We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation."

That's the top takeaway from nearly 150 officials from the tech industry and elsewhere who on Thursday published a broadside against the GOP presidential candidate, arguing that Trump represents a danger to jobs, exports and the social fabric of the country.

The group of signatories includes Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, as well as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Vint Cerf, who helped develop the Internet. Others include Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter; the sitting chief executive of Yelp; the founders of reddit, Slack and Tumblr; and various former federal officials and venture capitalists.

The letter takes aim at Trump's willingness to stoke racial anxieties and his lack of policy proposals. It highlights the risk that the candidate's rhetoric poses to immigration, which many US-based tech companies view as a crucial source of talent and ideas.

It takes on Trump's call to shut down parts of the Internet that are controlled by the Islamic State as evidence of "poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works."

The letter came together as a Google Doc "with a lot of people pecking away at it," said Alec Ross, one of the co-signers. He added that the Google Doc went viral as the authors passed it along to other members of their network. "Very reflective of the community," he said in an email. "Networked vs. hierarchical."

Ross has served Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton, as a senior adviser on technology issues, particularly during her tenure as secretary of state.

A number of other signers have advised her campaign, although a disclaimer at the end of the letter emphasizes that they are all speaking for themselves (and not for their respective organizations or businesses).

The letter is a sign that, in the perpetual political campaign for Silicon Valley's money and influence, Clinton may enjoy the upper hand. This is not much of a surprise; earlier analyses suggested that campaign donations from the tech industry were largely flowing toward the Democratic Party over the GOP.

Clinton and Trump are now roughly tied among registered voters, according to a New York Times/CBS poll released Thursday.

- Washington Post

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