Business didn’t speak out during President Donald Trump’s first chaotic week in office as he continued stating that he would be cutting out regulations affecting them. They naturally, were afraid to say anything, but after he created the executive order on immigration, the big tech companies had plenty to say.
Now that they’ve gotten bit in the stock market, they have plenty more to say.
On Monday, Trump’s boasts of making the stock market rise to levels never seen before aren’t being felt by 5 of the largest Silicon Valley firms. In fact, shares of Apple have fallen 0.67%; Alphabet 2.6%; Amazon 1%; Facebook 1.4%; and Microsoft 1.3%. The market cap of these five tech companies on the S&P 500 dropped by $32 billion. You can be sure Trump will have an excuse for that one much like the one where he blamed the Delta computers for causing all the problems at the airports this past weekend.
Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
Investors suspected Silicon Valley wouldn’t have it easy under President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade and immigration policies.
Trump deepened those fears Friday when he signed an executive order barring citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The move sent the market cap of the five biggest tech companies on the S&P 500 down by $32 billion Monday, as investors worried Trump’s anti-immigration policies may cut into the workforces of tech companies.
Shares of Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook (FB, -1.18%) together fell roughly 1% for a total market cap of $2.4 trillion on Monday. Alphabet alone shed $13.8 billion in market cap.
Tech companies quickly condemned Trump’s executive order over the weekend. Google CEO Sundar Pichai called the order “painful” in a company memo that noted over 100 of his employees were affected by the order. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his social media site that, “we should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help.” Microsoft, on the other hand, called the order “misguided.”
But tech companies might have to brace for further headwinds from the White House: On Monday, Bloomberg obtained a draft of an executive order from the Trump administration that could discourage U.S.-based companies from hiring foreign workers by directly targeting the work-visa programs tech giants frequently use.
Google, Apple and other tech giants expressed dismay over an executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump that bars nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
The U.S tech industry relies on foreign engineers and other technical experts for a sizeable percentage of its workforce. The order bars entry to the U.S. for anyone from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
The move, ostensibly intended to prevent extremists from carrying out attacks in the U.S., could now also heighten tensions between the new Trump administration and one of the nation’s most economically and culturally important industries. That’s especially true if Trump goes on to revamp the industry’s temporary worker permits known as H-1B visas, as some fear.
“I share your concerns” about Trump’s immigration order, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a memo to employees obtained by media outlets. “It is not a policy we support.”
“We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company,” he added.
Cook didn’t say how many Apple employees are directly affected by the order but said the company’s HR, legal and security teams are in contact to support them. “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do,” Cook wrote – an apparent reference not only to the company’s foreign-born employees but to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian immigrant.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was forcefully blunt. “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all,” he wrote on Facebook. “Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe.”
“It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity,” he continued. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg criticized the order in similar, though more carefully couched, terms on Friday.
Technology investor Chris Sacca, an early backer of Uber and Instagram, said on Twitter that he would match ACLU donations up to $75,000 after the organization sued over the ban – and then decided to donate another $75,000, for a total of $150,000. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar, the child of Iranians, complained that the order was “simple bigotry .”
Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who has recently appeared to be cultivating a relationship with Trump, tweeted that “many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US” who don’t “deserve to be rejected.” Musk is an immigrant from South Africa.
Google told its employees from those countries to cancel any travel plans outside the U.S. and to consult with the company’s human resources department if they’re not currently in the U.S., according to a company-wide note described to media outlets. That memo was first reported by Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in the note that at least 187 Google workers could be affected by Trump’s order. It is not clear how many of those workers are currently traveling outside the U.S. “We’ve always made our views on immigration known publicly and will continue to do so,” Pichai said in the memo.
Company representatives declined to discuss the memo or to answer questions about the affected employees. In an official statement, Google said: “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.”
Microsoft also said it is providing legal advice and assistance to its employees from the banned countries, noting they are all working in the U.S. lawfully.
A BIGGER ISSUE
The tech industry may be bracing for further immigration-related hits. Leaks of draft executive orders, still unverified, suggest that Trump might also revamp the H1-B program that lets Silicon Valley bring foreigners with technical skills to the U.S. for three to six years.
While the tech industry insists the H1-B program is vital, it has drawn fire for allegedly disadvantaging American programmers and engineers, especially given that the visas are widely used by outsourcing firms. Trump’s attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a long-time critic of the program.
Venky Ganesan, a managing director at venture capitalist firm Menlo Ventures, acknowledged that the program is “not perfect” and subject to some abuse, but noted that it provides an invaluable source of skilled workers and plays a “pivotal” role in the tech industry.
“If we want to buy American and hire American, we do that best by creating companies in America,” he said. “Having the best and brightest from all over the world come and create companies in America is better than them creating companies in India, Israel or China.”