Aug 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What Kamala Harris as VP could mean for Silicon Valley

illustration of Kamala Harris holding a mouse cursor

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Stringer

Tuesday, Joe Biden announced Calif. Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate for November’s presidential election, which is likely great news for Silicon Valley and friends.

The big picture: Harris is not only from California, but she spent some of her earliest years in politics in San Francisco. And her ties to the tech industry run deep.

What to know:

1. Antitrust: Though she’s moved a bit to the left on this issue, Harris has not historically pushed for the wholesale breakup of Big Tech companies.

  • She was a tough questioner of Facebook during a Senate hearing and has more recently suggested that government should take a closer look, yet hasn’t made breaking up Big Tech a core issue of her campaign as other candidates have.
  • (That sound you hear is from VCs and corp dev teams exhaling a sigh of relief…)

2. Immigration: As the child of immigrants herself, Harris will undoubtedly continue to be pro-immigration.

  • She has been a supporter of continuing and expanding DACA, a program that includes a number of immigrants who currently work for tech companies.
  • This is good news for the tech industry, as immigrants are not only a significant portion of rank-and-file workers, but also founders and CEOs of countless companies.

3. Family/other ties: With a lifetime spent in the Bay Area, it’s no surprise that Harris has high-profile Silicon Valley supporters, including Sheryl Sandberg, Laurene Powell Jobs and Marc Benioff.

  • Her brother-in-law, Tony West, is also currently Uber’s chief legal officer.

Yes, but: She’s called for higher corporate taxes, supported SESTA (an anti-sex trafficking bill that took away some Section 230 protections from internet companies), and backed AB5, a California bill that makes it harder to classify workers as contractors (and one that Uber and others are fighting with a November ballot measure).

The bottom line: Her influence will be undoubtedly welcome by many in Silicon Valley if the Democratic ticket wins.

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