Steve Westly moves easily between the worlds of technology and politics. The venture capitalist, who was an early investor in Tesla, served as state controller and chief financial officer of California between 2003 and 2007.
Now, like many in Silicon Valley, he is watching cautiously as President-elect Donald Trump forms his cabinet and starts to signal what his priorities will be over the next four years.
Despite Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign, when he railed against immigrants, called climate change a hoax and threatened to start a trade war with China, Westly believes that when it comes down to making real policy, Trump will back down on some of his most damaging rhetoric.
“I think Silicon Valley will fare just fine,” Westly told CALinnovates Chief Evangelist Kish Rajan. “Silicon Valley is getting bigger, not smaller. It is the tech center of the world, and I don’t think Trump wants to slow that growth for any reason.”
Immigrants have proven to be the secret sauce of Silicon Valley helping build companies that have created thousands of jobs. Renewable energy is quickly getting more affordable than coal and natural gas, and almost every economist agrees that a trade war with China would be a disaster.
But that doesn’t mean the Valley should be complacent. The economic dislocation that swept Trump into office is a growing problem.
“The 800-pound gorilla in the room is that new technology is coming,” says Westly. “But we have to get smarter about re-educating the American workforce. We have not done that nearly well enough in the past.”
Listen to the full interview here:
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