Silicon Valley is leading the corporate resistance to President Donald (Prince of Orange)Trump’s clampdown on immigration.
Apparently Big Tech is spending a fortune on financing legal opposition, criticising the plan, as well as helping employees ensnared by his executive order.
It had long been expected that Silicon Valley would fight back against Trump. The industry has depended on immigrants and championed liberal causes such as gay rights.
At the moment, it looks like they are still in the organisation stage. Over the weekend, as Trump tried to shut out immigrants from countries which he does not do business with, most in the tech industry stopped short of directly criticising the new Republican president.
Apple, Google and Microsoft offered legal aid to employees affected by the order. Several Silicon Valley executives donated to legal efforts to support immigrants facing the ban.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and Uber head Travis Kalanick both said on Twitter that they would take industry concerns about immigration to Trump’s business advisory council, where they serve.
Kalanick has faced opposition on social media for agreeing to be part of the advisory group. Kalanick in a Facebook post on Sunday called the immigration ban “wrong and unjust” and said that Uber would create a $3 million fund to help drivers with immigration issues.
Khash Sajadi, the British-Iranian chief executive of San Francisco-based tech company Cloud 66, was stuck in London because of the ban.
Sajadi is hoping that bigger tech companies like Google and Facebook would take legal action to protect affected employees. That could help set a precedent for people in similar situations.
He warned that it is going to take legal action as people speaking up is not going to be enough.
The tech industry also has other matters where it may find itself opposed to Trump, including trade policy and cyber security.
Over the weekend startup incubator Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, wrote a widely read blog post urging tech leaders to band together against the immigration order. He said he has spoken with a variety of people about organising but remains unsure about the best course of action.
“The honest answer is we don’t know yet. We are talking with legal groups and tech groups, but this is so unprecedented that I don’t think anyone has a manual.”
At Lyft, co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green pledged on the company’s blog to donate a million dollars over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which won a temporary stay of part of Trump’s executive order on Saturday night.
Dave McClure, the founding partner of 500 Startups and an outspoken critic of Trump, said his venture capital firm will soon open its first fund in the Middle East and will shift its attention to supporting entrepreneurs in their native countries, if bringing them to the United States proves impossible.
Ironically this will help countries identified by Trump as “enemies” develop their technology base.