BY NOW, you’ll have seen outrage around the world against a certain someone’s travel bans and general behaviour, language, tone and intent, although closer to home political and business dissent has been more muted.
Some pundits and commentators have speculated that Ireland’s reliance on heavy-hitting IT firms has, partly at least, led to a reluctance to sharply criticise The Donald’s decisions, lest offence be caused to international IT firms based here.
However, the IT giants themselves have stirred against President Trump, sharing a rare collective rapprochement to rap his actions firmly across the knuckles.
A variety of collective statements, letters and actions have seen the likes of – deep breath – Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Uber, SquareSpace, GoPro, LinkedIn, Reddit, Dropbox, Twitter, Intel, Kickstarter, and many, many others enter the fray, all united in opposition to the travel ban that, at best, is viewed as stifling innovation, and at worst, as naked bigotry, depending on who you talk to.
After all, a great many of America’s Fortune 500 companies are IT companies, and immigrants, with their constant influx of new ideas and bold entrepreneurial streaks, have provided a lifeblood for the sector (as well as making many people and companies very, very rich).
With more than 200 of America’s Fortune 500 firms founded by immigrants, or their children, the sector is acutely aware of the power, progress and prosperity that immigrants have played in the country’s and the wider tech sector’s fortunes.
Whether you’re from Somalia or Iraq, Singapore or Ireland, America’s tech sector welcomes you, and it’s no exaggeration to say that immigrants to America have fundamentally shaped and guided technology’s progress, and thus the world.
Any chilling effect on the sector – even if ‘just’ a ‘temporary ban’ on a few countries – thus rattles the entire IT world. The soul of the sector is at stake, with more than mere money promoting big and small IT companies and names to rush to the frontlines to fight against such a ban.
Perhaps more cynically, the experiences of those on the ‘wrong’ side of popular anti-Trump sentiment has also been noted as a potential driving force for resisting the travel bans.
Take, for instance, Travis Kalanick, the chief executive of Uber, the taxi-hailing firm. He was one of a number of high-profile tech heads sitting on a Trump advisory committee who soon felt the sharp heat of public anger.
Despite publicly saying that he opposed President Trump’s actions, but that he felt it was better to engage with the political process to try and bring about a positive change in American policy, many Uber customers reacted badly, saying they wouldn’t use Uber again as long as the firm was involved with President Trump in any capacity.
With the risk of white-hot public anger spilling over into a financial cost to the company, Kalanick stepped down from the committee, with his experience echoed by other leaders now finding themselves on the unexpected front line of an international, public battle.
And so, from the depths of Silicon Valley to the heights of Wall Street, the IT sector’s war drums are beating, as one global tech giant after another lines up its lieutenants and letters to oppose President Trump’s actions.
This marks a rare clash between politics and tech as a whole. Such flagship companies are used to occasional scraps and scuffles with the powers that be, but such collective cohesion beyond individual disputes is a rarity.
So far, the reaction from President Trump to the rebellious IT sector has been muted.
However, for a man who has constantly shown a strong familiarity with tech – his infamous Tweets, and comments regarding alleged Russian hacking spring to mind – it’s very unlikely that The Donald can, or will, ignore the IT sector’s keyboard warriors gathering for battle for very long …