I'm dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity of business leaders who seem to think they can express - loudly - highly partisan political opinions, without alienating customers who hold different opinions. It seems like a bad case of hubris . . . and we all know what that leads to.
An excellent example is the open letter on Donald Trump's candidacy signed by dozens of Silicon Valley leaders in July. They undoubtedly have the right to their opinions, and a disclaimer attached to the letter emphasized that they were signing it in their personal capacities: but they added their companies' or organizations' names as well. If they were signing as individuals, why mention the latter? Clearly, there was a strong identification of, or link between, individual and entity.
Now that Mr. Trump is our President-elect, Silicon Valley is changing its tune rather rapidly.
The valley built almost no inroads to Donald Trump and his administration’s inner circle. The one tech leader who is now on the transition team, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, was roundly criticized here for giving money to elect the real estate baron.
So in the wake of the election, Silicon Valley is trying to pivot, as startup gurus like to say.
. . .
But if tech CEOs make public overtures to Trump, they risk a backlash among many of their employees, customers, partners and netizens everywhere. This is a difficult line to walk.
. . .
The industry is seen as part of the elite, which many Trump supporters rejected for being out-of-touch with the concerns of working people.
“We need to talk about tech as it exists in places like the Rust Belt and the Midwest,” said Jonathan Godfrey, vice president for public affairs at The App Association.
Silicon Valley has to be realistic. “There are going to be grudges that will be held for a very long time,” said Larry Irving, formerly vice president of global government affairs for Hewlett-Packard and now a telecommunications and information technology consultant.
There's more at the link.
I'm sure that grudges will, indeed, be held. If I were in Mr. Trump's shoes, I'd hold them by the bushel! It's entirely possible to oppose someone's policies without trashing the person himself. Silicon Valley, and the US press corps, seem to have lost sight of that reality . . . and now those chickens are coming home to roost.
I also note that there's no mention in the above article about how individuals feel about the invasion of their privacy by tech firms, so that information about us is gathered without our consent, bought and sold without so much as a by-your-leave, and used to make gigantic profits for tech companies at our expense. This doesn't even appear to have entered upon the thought horizon of Silicon Valley, where Big Data has for too long been a vital tool in Big Brother's arsenal. However, it concerns a lot of citizens, who are sick and tired of it, and want their privacy back. Include me in that number. It's not just about politicians, Silicon Valley - it's about us, too.
Then we have intemperate outbursts that can cause serious harm to companies. Witness the Grubhub imbroglio last week. Another one is providing some spicy exchanges (you should pardon the expression).
Penzeys Spices ... is continuing to elicit both dissension and commendation for spicy remarks made by the company's CEO implying that voters who cast a ballot for President-elect Donald Trump were racist.
This past week, the Wisconsin company recently found itself at the center of political controversy after news broke that CEO and president Bill Penzey said in an email newsletter to customers that those who voted for Trump "just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago."
Those strong statements have ruffled the feathers of some on social media, with a few Twitter users even starting a #BoycottPenzeys hashtag in an effort to get customers to abstain from buying the company's spices.
"Goodbye Penzeys!" a Twitter user posted. "We've been a customer for over a decade. Loved your spices now hello The Spice House! #BoycottPenzeys"
However, some social media users were quick to praise Penzeys Spices for its denunciation of racism.
"Just placed my first order," another Twitter user posted. "Thank you for opposing racism, and embracing love! #Penzeys"
And of course, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke weighed in too, tweeting: "This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn't live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods."
Again, more at the link. I might add that my wife and I have been customers of Penzey's for some time, and have large quantities of their products in our pantry. However, from now on we'll be looking to The Spice House for our requirements. They don't allow politics to intrude into business, and even have a discount code of NOPOLITICS, which gets you free shipping! I like it - and I'll take the savings, thanks.