Trump Would be a 'Disaster for Innovation,' Tech Leaders Say

Ev Williams, Steve Wozniak and a who’s who of tech leaders signed an open letter, sharing concerns about the impact Trump could have on innovation.

Trump, IT innovation

A Donald Trump presidency would be a "disaster for innovation," states a forceful, to-the-point open letter signed by nearly 150 investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers and business leaders. It first published July 14 to the Medium blog posting of Katie Jacobs Stanton, chief marketing officer of Color Genomics, which offers affordable genetic testing for common hereditary diseases.

"We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership," the letter begins, explaining that Trump has come out in opposition to what has so far driven U.S. prosperity and innovation.

They point, as examples, to his positions on immigration, technology and censorship, writing: "Great ideas come from all parts of society, and we should champion that broad-based creative potential. We also believe that progressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth—scientists, entrepreneurs, and creators. In fact, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Donald Trump, meanwhile, traffics in ethnic and racial stereotypes, repeatedly insults women, and is openly hostile to immigration. He has promised a wall, mass deportations, and profiling.

"We also believe in the free and open exchange of ideas, including over the Internet, as a seed from which innovation springs. Donald Trump proposes 'shutting down' parts of the Internet as a security strategy — demonstrating both poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works. His penchant to censor extends to revoking press credentials and threatening to punish media platforms that criticize him," the posting continued.

They also expressed concern about the uncertainly of Trump's economic plans, saying he's so far offers little more than "contradictory pronouncements," and worried about the economic implications of his policies.

"His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America," states the letter. "He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation."

The letter doesn't endorse or mention Hillary Clinton, but is simply anti-Trump.

"We stand against Donald Trump's divisive candidacy," they wrote, "and want a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America's technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity, public investments in research and infrastructure, and respect for the rule of law."

Among those who signed are Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple; David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr; Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit; Tim Wu, a professor of law at Columbia University; Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay; and Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga.

One tech-industry leader who has come out in support of Trump is billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir. Thiel has agreed to speak at the Republican National Convention, which begins July 18 in Cleveland.

"I don't think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly. That is why I am going to speak in Cleveland, and that is why I will support the Republican nominee," Thiel said in a statement.

The New York Times, in a July 13 article, pointed out the "awkward juxtaposition" of Thiel and Trump, or at least of the convention: "Mr. Thiel is openly gay and the convention is set to adopt a platform that opposed gay and transgender rights."