Last week's column laid out our holiday wishes and hopes for our nation's political leaders. Hopefully the (mainly) good vibes emanating from the column will help steer their thoughts and actions in the right direction in 2017.
Here's the same for some of our brightest stars in tech.
- Uber: more fuel on the fire. What makes Uber so great isn't that they conquered ride sharing. It's that ride sharing is only the beginning. 2017 can be a watershed year in autonomous vehicle deployment, advances in autonomous trucking, and the eventual dismantling of the rental car system and eventually car ownership entirely. If there's anyone capable of executing all of this, it's Uber.
- Airbnb: some regulatory peace. While there's no real solution to Airbnb's problems in New York (other than waiving the white flag and pretending it's a settlement), hopefully the lessons learned from their disastrous experience there can help prevent similar outcomes in markets like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin.
- Tesla: love from the states. Given the appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA and the need for offsets to help pay for new federal tax cuts, Tesla may soon face a world with far fewer federal incentives for consumers who want to buy electric vehicles. Given the number of critical policy issues riding on Tesla's success (energy independence, combatting climate change, increased domestic manufacturing), hopefully states will step up and increase their tax credits to make electric vehicles just as attractive to buyers as they are today.
- The Sharing Economy (Handy, Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Postmates, Instacart, TaskRabbit and beyond): new worker classification laws. There's no reason that sharing economy companies shouldn't be allowed to provide benefits to their workers and there's no reason that hard working independent contractors should be legally barred from receiving benefits. Legislation in states like New York and in DC (as part of federal tax reform) could create a new form of worker classification that allows independent contractors to finally receive benefits like health care, sick days, workers comp and disability.
- Apple: freedom to run their company as they see fit. Apple faces enormous pressure from the President-elect to start manufacturing iPhones in the United States. While Apple will probably find a way to mollify the new administration, the model and mindset that has allowed Apple to revolutionize consumer tech products shouldn't be impinged.
- Amazon: freedom from anti-trust prosecution. It's not hard to see the Amazon of today facing some of the same legal challenges that beset Microsoft in the 1990s (and the Washington Post's coverage of Trump, given who their owner is, probably hasn't helped). Amazon hopefully will face real competition from Walmart and other retailers, but the competition should come from the marketplace, not from new government limitations.
- The Venture Capital Community: opportunity to succeed or fail on the merits. The vast majority of startups fail, but that should be the result of inferior products or services - not because politicians did the bidding of entrenched interests afraid of competition. Every disruption produces a fight between old and new with the old guard all too often using political contributions and backroom dealings to impose arbitrary limitations on what their new competition can and can't do. That can only set us back as an economy and as a society. Here's hoping the VC community both takes their regulatory risk more seriously and is not faced with undue burdens from government at any level.