As the White House prepares to usher in a new president, the technology industry finds itself staring into the unknown.
Donald Trump’s campaign had no position on supporting the start-up community. No plan for dealing with artificial intelligence. No policies governing open data. And that doesn’t even get to the heart of the industry’s concerns about his social policy agenda.
Despite their near-united opposition to Trump’s candidacy, tech industry leaders now more than ever must take a proactive role in engaging with government, tech policy experts said.
“Trump said a lot of nasty, unsavory things, and people understandably think the worst,” said Garrett Johnson, who co-founded tech advocacy group Lincoln Labs with other Silicon Valley Republicans. “Both sides need to extend olive branches.”
In some ways, the conciliation already has begun. Chief executives who labeled Trump a fear monger and threat to democracy wrote to their dismayed workers the day after the election, promising to work with the country’s new leadership.
Trump’s political allies say his policy goals would boost all industries, and that issues unique to the tech industry such as digital privacy and cybersecurity will get fair consideration.
And those who aren’t convinced have shifted into a “roll-up-the-sleeves” mode, according to Mike Hettinger, managing principal at lobbying firm Hettinger Strategy Group, who said many companies are hoping that Trump will meet them halfway.
Trump’s transition team includes Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley investor and Facebook board member. The role could give Thiel considerable sway in determining Trump’s priorities and staff.
But even that has been a contentious move, because Thiel has been shunned by some in the Valley for backing Trump’s campaign. Others say Thiel’s support for Trump has put him in prime position to help shape Trump’s tech policies.
“Whether or not you agree with Thiel’s choice, he had a point of view, he put…