Good morning ... Situational awareness: Intel announced this morning that Brian Krzanich resigned from his position as CEO and as member of the board, after the company found he violated Intel’s non-fraternization policy. The board has appointed CFO Robert Swan as the interim CEO.
Tech leaders met with President-elect Donald Trump in 2016. Photo: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
For tech executives, the Trump administration's child separation policy provided a moment of clarity when the choice to speak out was relatively easy.
But after Trump's executive order on Wednesday, companies were once again struggling to figure out how to respond. The executive order itself turned down the heat for the moment — but also raised more questions than it answered.
"The policy doesn't seem clear at this point, so not sure what we'd be commenting on," one Big Tech company spokesman told Axios. "Will let you know when it's more clear..."
Familiar pattern: This has been an all-too-common experience, according to insiders at several of the tech companies.
The toughest challenges:
1. When to weigh in: Figuring out when to speak out has been a challenge since the president took office — and even before. Remember the scene as tech executives descended on Trump Tower?
2. Subtlety is tough: Nuance has been a challenge in an increasingly soundbite-driven political environment.
3. Saying vs. doing: Some of the most effective attempts have been the concrete actions tech companies have taken, from joining lawsuits to refusing to take part in government efforts. But, one tech executive said, that's tough in a world where "what gets people excited is who says what first."
4. Internal vs. external: It's not just outside pressure that tech companies are dealing with, though there is plenty of that. Employees also often push their leaders to live up to the change-the-world idealism they believe their companies represent.
5. Business concerns: Companies also have to balance how much to challenge an administration that still controls issues ranging from trade conditions to antitrust regulation to merger approval. That's why big government contractors and heavily regulated companies don't pipe up as much.
We also have an exclusive Axios/Survey Monkey poll that shows Americans now rank immigration as the most important issue facing the nation. And a look at what's in the two immigration bills getting a vote in the House today.
Ayah Bdeir. Photo: LittleBits
While many tech executives struggle with how much to speak out about Trump's immigration policies, LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir said the choice is both straightforward and personal.
Her story: These days Bdeir runs a company that helps teach kids to build robots. But when she was a child, Bdeir's family was forced to flee Lebanon several times, landing in the U.K. and Canada before eventually coming to the U.S.
What she's saying: Bdeir said she feels called on to both oppose the administration's policies and to let migrants know they are not alone in their fight.
"I think that it is cowardly to not speak out if you are against this," Bdeir said, noting that companies can always hide behind notions of not mixing business and politics, or concerns about angering clients or customers. But, she added, "when you don’t speak out on something that is so fundamentally wrong you are complacent."
What she's doing: Bdeir is putting her money where her outrage is, donating 20% of this week's direct sales to ACLU efforts to help immigrants.
Yes, but: She, like everyone else, is struggling to figure out what happens to those families who have been separated and what will happen under the new executive order.
"It is unfathomable that it went for so long, and even now we have an executive order that I don’t know what it means," she said.
Go deeper: Bdeir blogged more about this topic.
A bipartisan group of 2 senators and 3 representatives sent Google a letter on Wednesday calling on the company to reduce its ties with Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.
What they're saying: The company's "strategic partnership" with the company "could pose a serious risk to national security and American consumers," wrote Sens. Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, along with Reps. Liz Cheney, Dutch Ruppersberger and Mike Conaway.
Why it matters: This issue surfaced after concerns that Facebook had been allowing device makers, including some from China, access to customer data in order to build Facebook experiences into their devices. People then pointed out that Google, Twitter and others had also worked closely with device makers.
Yes, but: As I have been noting for a while, there is no evidence Chinese device makers, or any others, misused the access they had. In Google's case, Huawei is basically just running the widely-used Android operating system along with various Google apps.
The bottom line: While there isn't much that Republicans and Democrats agree on these days, concern over China has been a uniting force, at least among some in both parties.
We look forward to answering these questions. Like many U.S. companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs around the world, including Huawei. We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreements, and our agreements include privacy and security protections for user data.
Go deeper: Here's the full letter.
This library system's RFID scanner is a poet and it doesn't even know it.