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As the dust settles on the reality of a Donald Trump presidency, Bradley Tusk, a prominent venture capital investor, said start-ups should prepare for a less intrusive regulatory regime, but warned that the new administration might also be more willing than his predecessor to protect legacy industries.
In a memo sent to clients after the election results were tallied Tuesday night, Tusk explained how Silicon Valley, indeed companies in general, might benefit from America's 45th president:
The odds of seeing activist, tough-on-business, cabinet members who aggressively pursue regulatory action are lower. This also means that pending mergers are far more likely to be approved, charter schools will not face federal opposition, the sharing economy will not risk being shut down by new federal worker classification regulations, the SEC will not aggressively involve itself in private, illiquid companies and assets, and peer-to-peer lending will not face significant federal opposition, among many, many other issues.
At the same time, Tusk noted that the new president will owe something to the electorate that supported him, and may be inclined to protect legacy industries — even at the expense of innovation.
Trump's appeal might lead to a larger national conversation of technological efficiency as a value and the costs it exacts on the labor market. Expect to hear references in the next couple of weeks to autonomous vehicles displacing truck drivers — as the largest profession for non-college educated white males (Trump's base) — as an example of how people believe the economic and political systems ignore their interests. And as the reach of technology continues (at an unprecedented speed) to make more and more traditionally white-collar occupations streamlined — e.g. doctors in telehealth, lawyer apps — the swath of workers fearful of being displaced by innovation may grow. While this likely will not significantly shift states' overall regulatory receptiveness to innovation, new coalitions opposing the tech-favorable regulations could be formed and general appeals to efficiency could be less effective.
Tusk, also a former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg , is part of the political machine at work behind startups like Uber and FanDuel — his firm specializes in helping startups navigate tough regulatory environments — and has advised Fortune 500 tech and media companies including Alphabet's Google, AT&T and Walmart.
In a phone interview with CNBC, said today's uncertainty also presents opportunity, especially as it relates to federal agencies. In general, when he selects his cabinet, President Trump is likely to install members who are friendly to industry, and favor a light regulatory approach, he said.