How can Obama stimulate the tech economy?
1) Get the general economy back on its feet. Tech spending correlates closely with GDP growth.
2) Take government action that increases competition in tech markets. Nixon charged IBM with anti-trust — ushering in the independent software and plug-compatible hardware businesses. Reagan presided over the breakup of AT&T — setting the stage for massive innovation in telecommunications.
3) Create (or enlarge) some federal government project that will spin off innovative technology. In the 1950s, the building of NORAD spawned the minicomputer business. The Apollo space program of the 1960s fertilized Silicon Valley with people and transistors — ultimately enabling the PC business. And the Arpanet and Milnet of the 1970’s and 1980’s lay the groundwork for the Internet and the Web.
4) Reduce regulatory friction. Reform or eliminate Sarbanes Oxley. Sox has increased cost and bureaucracy for small tech companies. Get the accounting profession to reconsider its rules around stock options accounting — non-expensed options were a big part of tech’s golden years. Streamline required reporting so small companies can do it cheaply and quickly.
5) Resist lobbying and keep tech open and available to the public. In other words, protect net neutrality. Start-ups need open systems to thrive.
6) Don’t construct barriers around the U.S. — incent American businesses to reach out and be included in as many innovation networks as possible — wherever they may be. Innovation is no longer confined behind the four walls of a company or the borders of a country — future technology innovation will be driven by open networks, not skunk works.
7) Use your own belief in social and technology as a model for all CEOs and U.S. leaders. Don’t let the bastards take your Blackberry away — it’s a powerful symbol.
Obama must return America to a time which spawned HP, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Wang, DEC, Apple, Compaq, Cisco, Sun, and many, many other great companies. The new president should build an environment in which the new Steve Jobs and the new Bill Gates and the new Ken Olsen can easily and quickly start companies and not be instantly absorbed or destroyed by the big guys or bogged down by regulation. What’s the goal? In eight years: 1,000 tech start-ups and 100 tech IPOs.
If you’ve got other ideas for Obama, I’d love to hear from you.