The guy who helped Uber win in NYC offers 10 predictions for 2017

Crystal ball
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President-elect Donald Trump's technology summit on Wednesday is reportedly drawing some of the sector's biggest names, with Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Larry Page and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg among those expected to attend. While the industry has its own priorities, and it's hard to predict a Trump Administration's actions, here's my best sense of what to expect at the intersection of tech and politics in 2017.

  1. Worker classification will be one of the main issues in 2017, with the unusual dynamic of workers and startups both supporting legislation that allows startups to offer benefits, while some unions oppose it, ironically taking an anti-progressive stance. This matters a lot for sharing economy companies (from Uber to Handy to Door Dash) because it both allows them to take more steps to attract top independent contractors and also helps resolve various regulatory and litigation issues (mainly attacks from plaintiffs' lawyers).
  2. Autonomous vehicle legislation will move forward in many more states and more fleets will be deployed in cities around the country. You're already seeing self-driving Ubers in cities like Pittsburgh and San Francisco and as the technology continues to advance (and as more and more customers want to try it), more providers and more locations will pop up. At the same time, the debate around regulating autonomous trucking will heat up, presenting President-elect Trump with competing priorities (not over-regulating companies but also wanting to protect certain types of jobs).
  3. Affordable Care Act reform legislation will create a vehicle for telemedicine expansion (and not just in rural areas) and coverage requirements (impacting insurance startups). This will impact virtually every health care provider, insurer and business as well as potential health care costs for all businesses. Repeal of the law without any clear replacement could be especially messy.
  4. Cannabis will continue to advance at the state level (both legalization and more rulemaking around implementation), but the move to making it a Schedule II drug will be far less likely under an Attorney General Jeff Sessions, creating even more uncertainty. This could complicate investment decisions and further state expansions. It's also possible that the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms or the Justice Department could begin to enforce federal laws prohibiting cannabis even in states where the voters have explicitly permitted it.
  5. Solar and renewable energy startups will have to fight to keep federal tax credits and seek to compensate for their potential loss with more state and local credits, grants and programs. Clearly, the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA will pose significant new challenges for green energy companies who rely on tax credits and grants.
  6. This is the first time we've seen a casino operator in the White House – on one hand this could lead to a broader liberalization of esports, but it could also lead to religious conservative judges ruling against states trying to expand sports betting. And as the esports sector continues to grow and evolve, the role of online gaming will become a bigger public issue (especially as casinos realize their current product offerings will make them extinct within the next 15 years).
  7. Homesharing will remain a hot topic in cities and states with hotels, hotel unions, and affordable housing advocates on the offensive. Homesharing companies will have to play defense and whack-a-mole globally (companies like Airbnb are facing serious challenges in New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and other major markets). And while there's no real federal jurisdiction over homesharing, having a hotel owner and operator in the White House can't be good news either for companies like Airbnb.
  8. Tax reform will lead to more IPOs, a public market rally, and a race by startups to capture the momentum created by lower capital gains tax rates, lower corporate rates and lower individual rates. Combined with an infrastructure bill that could reach $1 trillion in spending, the impact on the market could be monumental, giving late stage startups incentive to capture the momentum and go public sooner rather than later (like Palantir or Pinterest or DJI or Stripe).
  9. H1B visa reform will start to move. GOP control of Congress and the White House means that comprehensive immigration reform (what you've seen proposed from immigration advocacy groups and Democratic elected officials) is not a priority, making it easier to just pass specific components that everyone likes. There's widespread agreement on making sure that talented people who are essential to help American companies grow can get here and stay here and that's likely to now happen.
  10. More M&A. We'll see a different perspective at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission towards mergers and acquisitions, meaning less friction from regulators, more M&A activity, and more consolidation in certain industries. The Time Warner-AT&T merger will be especially interesting to watch because the Trump campaign expressed reservations about it, but campaigns and governance are often two different things (and some concessions will undoubtedly occur, maybe even the divestiture of CNN).

Commentary by Bradley Tusk who leads political advisory firm Tusk Strategies. Bradley served as Mike Bloomberg's campaign manager, guiding Mayor Bloomberg to a third term. In 2016 he advised Bloomberg on a potential presidential run. His career in the public sector began at the New York City Parks Department in 1995, acting as spokesman and then senior advisor to Commissioner Henry Stern. Bradley then served as communications director for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. From 2003-2006, Bradley was Deputy Governor of Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyTusk.

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