Mar 20, 2017

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: Tech alone can't stop Trump

Slack

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield hasn't shied away from a fight with Donald Trump. He joined a recent effort to support Planned Parenthood and Slack has also opposed the Trump Administration on both the travel ban and on transgender rights. But, he said, it's going to take more than the tech industry to fight Trump.

"It's not up to tech to save the world here," he said in an interview. "All industries, all people have to play a role in this."

While fighting Trump may be necessary, Butterfield said that battling the government is "exhausting" and a "big distraction."

Butterfield made several other points about the Trump effect as part of an interview with Axios. Read below for the full comments on the political scene. For his thoughts on Slack, click here

I know you've expressed concern both individually and as a company about some of President Trump's social policies, I'm curious what you think of his economic priorities and policies now that we've seen his first budget.

It's a strange situation. There's obviously a lot of bombast from the administration but they are not the ones who actually make the call and it is unclear at this point the degree of alignment the House has with the president. In the background, there is just a lot of uncertainty and the uncertainty is definitely not helpful. Whether that comes to trade policy, whether that comes to foreign relations, whether that is about taxation.There's a big expectation that corporate tax reform will happen and that we are going to have a couple trillion dollars coming home. Were it not for that belief being widespread and buoying everything up, i think the markets would be reacting much more negatively to this sort of uncertainty.

It's been a couple months now on the social side, whether it is the travel ban or immigration or the stuff around LGBT people. Has the tech industry done enough to stand up for its values.

I'm not sure at this point there is that much of a tech industry left, certainly as one coherent thing. If you consider us, Snapchat, AirBnB and PayPal, our businesses just have npothign to do with each other, other than the way we were funded in the early stages. I don't want to be a spokesman for tech any more than I would want to be a spokesman for durable goods or the energy industry. That is a non-answer. I'll give you also an answer. It has been happening. People are generally focused on issues where there is an impact on the business or it is just fundamental human rights that are at stake. It does feel sometimes like the way moderate Muslims are called on to condemn every terrorist attack. It's exhausting being in business these days when there's just this continual stream of things that are very concerning and which you are called on to condemn. It's an interesting balance. It's certainly a big distraction from the business, which is not to suggest that these aren't necessary things that aren't worth being distracted about. But it definitely makes things more difficult. The last thing I would say is that it's not up to tech to save the world here. All industries, all people have to play a role in this.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

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