Litmus Test: Four Tech Leaders to Watch
The leadership of the nation’s first digital president helped produce a booming technology ecosystem. But what happens to this framework over the next four years? Or, better yet, what happens to this framework over the next four months? Watch the actions of these four key leaders to understand where the innovation economy is headed in the immediate future:
- Peter Thiel. Mocked by his industry peers when he spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, this billionaire VC now has significant involvement in guiding the Trump Transition Team. Will he build the president-elect build more bridges to the broader Silicon Valley community — or simply push personal favorites from his extensive investment portfolio? Also, will Thiel (pictured above) help broker a truce between the pro-petroleum faction of the GOP and his PayPal Mafia cohort Elon Musk?
- Elaine Chao. No, she’s never been considered a tech person in the past. But the actions of Trump’s appointee for Secretary of Transportation should tell us a lot about the importance of innovation over the next four years. Will she continue the aggressive push for smart cities that was championed by her predecessor Anthony Foxx? What kind of regulatory policies will she place on the emerging self-driving industry? Similar to the questions above regarding Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, will Chao support the emerging electric vehicle market — or gut it in favor of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles?
- Lamar Smith. Recently re-elected as Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Smith will continue to have a large impact on the nation’s digital future. But critics are concerned how forward-thinking the approach will be from this longtime Texas Congressional representative with the coming change at the White House. This concern is even more pressing after this past week, when his committee re-tweeted a Breitbart News article that dismissed the validity of climate change.
- Mark Zuckerberg. Will the Facebook founder tweak his basic approach to current events to mitigate the fake news problem that may have significantly impacted the 2016 election? Or, will he simply weather the current PR storm and stick to the party line that Facebook is not a media company? Moreover, does the recent meeting in Peru lend credence to the speculation that Zuckerberg is working on a new content project with outgoing President Obama.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.