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Kamala Harris could be the best thing that ever happened to Big Tech

August 12, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC

The giants of Silicon Valley have endured a rough year in Washington, DC but, with Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his Democratic running mate, things are looking up for the industry. Namely, Harris as Vice-President could turn down some of the political heat on the industry.

Sure, the office of Vice President is hardly a hotbed of influence (as anyone who has watched the show Veep is aware). But given Biden’s age, and his signals that he will only serve one term if elected, the choice of Harris is more consequential than any other VP pick in recent years—and a blessing for Big Tech.

Until yesterday, Silicon Valley faced the prospect of Biden selecting a running mate such as Susan Rice or Tammy Duckworth who had few ties to their industry, or else Elizabeth Warren—an active scourge of the tech giants who had vowed to break up the likes Facebook and Google. Instead, Biden chose a tech ally from their home state of California.

Unsurprisingly, tech moguls have hailed the selection of Harris in the same way as the oil industry would greet a VP pick from Texas, or Wall Street would applaud a candidate from New York. The moguls celebrating her pick included billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs:

Meanwhile, Harris ally and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg extolled the ground-breaking selection on Instagram:

Jobs and Sandberg are just some of the powerful players in the tech industry with whom Harris has ties. As Theodore Schleifer notes in Vox, the Vice-Presidential pick has raised money from Valley bigwigs like LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist John Doerr, and is pals with Facebook President Sean Parker.

And in a telling quote, Democratic super-fundraiser Cooper Teboe tells Vox that many in Silicon Valley were waiting to see who the VP nominee would be before opening their check book. Now, Harris is likely to trigger a flood of donations.

“She will be the pick that the California, Silicon Valley donor community — who are worried about things like tech and repatriation and taxes and so on and so forth — she is the pick that they will be happiest with,” Teboe told Vox.

All of this doesn’t mean, of course, that the arrival of a Vice-President Harris will end the recent political scrutiny of Silicon Valley. Companies like Facebook and Amazon are the targets of ongoing investigations by Congress—in addition to those by the Justice Department and FTC—and their behavior has attracted the ire of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Meanwhile, Harris herself has taken swings at Big Tech in the past. This included a 2019 CNN interview, where she raised the idea of “breaking up” Facebook:

During the Democratic primary debates, she suggested that Twitter should be forced to shut down Donald Trump’s account in the name of “accountability”—a heavy handed step beyond what other candidates have proposed.

But such pronouncements appear to have been rhetorical gimmicks more than serious policy proposals.

The reality is that Harris is infinitely preferable to the tech industry than Biden’s other choices, as well as the Trump Administration, which has attacked Silicon Valley relentlessly. In addition to the President himself, Trump’s close allies in Congress, such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo), have made attacking Silicon Valley a core part of their political platforms.

Which all goes to say the tech industry is likely breathing a sigh of relief today. Before they focus their efforts on that other project: winning in November.

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