France’s growing success in courting U.S. tech jobs highlights President Donald Trump’s fraught relationship with Silicon Valley.
The new reality was on view this week at a conference in Paris, where 60 tech executives from some of America’s largest technology powerhouses announced new France-based initiatives.
IBM plans to hire 1,800 people in France and develop a team to research blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of things, tech news site TechCrunch reported. Meanwhile, Uber announced that it would invest $23.4 million in France on the company’s flying car program, its first outside of North America, according to CNN. Facebook and Google also plan to step up their French presence.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who organized the summit, called Tech for Good, has pledged to make France a “start-up country.” Since then, leading U.S. tech companies have promised to invest $4.1 billion in France and add 2,200 jobs in total. The move comes amid Trump’s cool relationship with U.S.-based tech companies despite holding court shortly into his presidency with several tech leaders including Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.
Numerous tech companies opposed Trump’s travel ban and new restrictions on the H-1B visa. Trump has also feuded with Amazon over shipping costs. Microsoft is even suing the Trump Administration over ending the DACA program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to work and defers deportation, while other companies have slammed the administration for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
While, the jobs that U.S. tech companies promised to France are a small fraction of those in Silicon Valley, it marks a noticeable shift for the industry. Macron has also met individually with executives at companies like Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Uber.
However, the Trump administration has pleased tech companies from a policy standpoint. Google’s parent company Alphabet and Apple, among others, have Trump’s tax changes to thank for saving them billions of dollars in taxes for repatriating funds held overseas. It remains to be seen whether those efforts will be enough for those companies, especially as other countries offer their own incentives to invest.