Just over one month ago the United States elected Republican Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Since then, many scurried to identify what a Trump administration would mean for industries in the U.S. and how his policies would shape the course of the American economy.
Though Trump's pre-election policy aspirations lacked detail, they have begun to take shape over the course of the last month, through personal statements and his picks for cabinet positions.
For the U.S. tech industry, the Trump administration could reshape how companies do business, with potential changes for issues such as cybersecurity and immigration.
To see what the tech industry based outside of the U.S. thinks about the administration changes, CIO Dive spoke with Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, a German open-source company specializing in open-source email software. A global company, Open-Xchange provides the software for 70% of all email servers around the world, according to Laguna.
For Laguna, a robust U.S. tech industry positively impacts the rest of tech world, promoting innovation throughout. But, if the tech economy were to be inhibited by policies under a new administration, the tech industry outside the U.S. would stand to benefit.
Below is our conversation with Laguna and his perspective on what the U.S. can expect. This conversation has been edited and condensed.
What the tech industry can expect under the coming Trump administration
Laguna: I don't think even Trump knows what he's going to do when it comes to cybersecurity and tech. He said a few things that I don't think he wants to remember as he becomes president and gets into power.
Like this whole production needs to return to the U.S. For a company like Apple or Google and many others, this is going to be very difficult and at the end of the day it will make the product very much more expensive. I'm not even sure you can easily build the capabilities to build these products inside the U.S. in a short time frame.
So how realistic is it actually that these high tech products production will return to the U.S.? And will the consumer be willing to pay the price for that? Because of course it comes with, if you want to create jobs, jobs need to be paid well and this adds to the product cost, obviously.
This is why the whole industry has developed the way it has. It also would make these companies, from a global perspective, less competitive.
I don't think that is going to happen because it's just not implementable in many ways and it would hurt the U.S. business more than it would help by any means.
Given that at least a few people from Silicon Valley also have a hand in the Trump team, Peter Thiel most notably, and he's bringing on a few more people. Him being involved and so many Silicon Valley companies, I hope he gets some sense into what to do and what not.
On how potential immigration regulation changes could impact the U.S. tech industry
Laguna: The other part that would hurt Silicon Valley a big deal is visas and work permits. I mean, if you look around it feels like 50% of the people working in Silicon Valley are obviously immigrants, mostly from Asia these days, some from Europe.
Then companies like my company, Open-Xchange, we do business in the U.S. and of course have to send people over to work [with] our customers and make things happen. If all that gets more difficult, it would be hurting first and foremost the U.S. companies, the U.S. high tech companies, because the fight for talent is what it's all about. And if less talent flows into the country, then those companies will have a harder time to thrive. Actually you are putting foreign companies to an advantage if you do that.
But these highly skilled people still exist and they're looking for jobs outside the country, outside of India and China and wherever they come from and if they can't go to the U.S., they will go elsewhere and then help these countries build the tech industries and make them more successful. ...
I think it's never a good idea to make it hard for talent to get into the country because that's is what ultimately is driving the economy.
How the Trump administration could impact the tech industry outside the U.S.
Laguna: If Trump does what he said during the election period there's of course good and bad that is going to happen for us.
The bad will be that the U.S. market, which is very important for us, will become less accessible to us and maybe we'll become less competitive because of taxes or so that are being put on our products, making us less competitive in the U.S., making it harder for us to actually deliver our services into the U.S. because traveling becomes harder. ...
The good though would be that, if all these policies would be implemented, it would be hurting the U.S. tech industry, which is dominating the place quite a bit, opening opportunities for companies outside the U.S. As little as Trump wants to hear this, actually he would be creating quite a few opportunities for companies outside the U.S. who takeover the business that U.S. companies now have.
How the European tech economy would change during Trump's administration
Laguna: Actually the people that put out these sort of economical forecasts in Europe, they are predicting Trump to be good for the European economy, which is quite amazing. Maybe it speaks to what I said before. Good for Europe doesn't necessarily mean good for the U.S. as well.
It may be, at least for the tech industry, I can see this is certainly something that as a little as I hope for the U.S. tech industry to be weakened, because it's going to drive our innovation. A lot of the stuff that comes out has been very good and a couple of things need fixes like protection of data and privacy and so forth, but that's fixable.
Nobody, I think, outside the U.S. wants the U.S. tech industry to go down, but of course it may happen and the beneficiaries would become companies like mine and other European companies.