If there's one thing we learned about politics in 2016, it's that nothing is as it seems.
For entrepreneurs wondering how a new President and a new Congress will impact them, while everything is still up for grabs, what follows is my best sense of how fifteen different issues and industries may fare.
- Worker classification (both federal and state) will be one of the main issue's in 2017, with the unusual dynamic of workers and startups supporting freedom to give benefits and some unions opposing it by taking an anti-progressive stance. This matters a lot for businesses who are mainly staffed by independent contractors.
- Autonomous vehicle legislation will move forward in many more states and more fleets will be deployed in cities around the country.
- The debate around regulating autonomous trucking will heat up, and also get wrapped up in debate over repealing NAFTA.
- Affordable Care Act repeal or reform legislation will create a vehicle for telemedicine expansion (not just rural) and coverage requirements (impacting insurance startups). This will impact virtually every health care provider, insurer and business as well as potential health care costs for all businesses.
- Food tech will face new federal obstacles with a GOP led USDA and Congress, while Farm bill changes will give nutrition tech companies an opening. However, enforcement actions by the FDA and USDA may wane.
- Cannabis will continue to advance at the state level (both legalization and more rulemaking around implementation), but the move to Schedule II will be less likely under an Attorney General Sessions, creating even more uncertainty. This could complicate investment decisions and further state expansions.
- Solar and renewable energy startups will have to keep federal tax credits and seek to compensate with more state and local credits, grants and programs.
- This is the first time we've seen a casino operator in the White House - on one hand this could lead to a broader liberalization of esports, but it could also lead to religious conservative judges ruling against states trying to expand sports betting.
- The focus on education will shift into a debate over charters, vouchers and the end of common core. This will make it even harder to push an efficiency argument for ed tech. Startups in the space need to expand their total addressable markets beyond traditional K-12 public schools.
- Homesharing will remain a hot topic in cities and states with hotels, hotel unions, and affordable housing advocates on the offensive. Homesharing companies will have to play defense and whack-a-mole globally.
- Peer to peer lending will get a reprieve with the possible abolition of the CFPB. The fintech dispute will capture the larger debate for the soul of both parties: populism (many fintech products) vs. traditional capitalism (Wall Street).
- Tax reform will lead to more IPOs, a public market rally, and a race by startups to capture the momentum at lower capital gains tax rates (since the only certainty in politics today is that nothing will stay the same for long).
- H1B visa reform will start to move--GOP control means comprehensive reform is not a priority. Startups will also need to keep an eye on short term visa changes.
- More M&A. An emphasis on business over consumer at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will mean that mergers and acquisitions will face less friction from regulators, resulting in increased M&A activity.