Startups react to Trump’s triumph

British entrepreneurs are shocked that the property magnate has been elected to become the 45th president of the US

Startups react to Trump’s triumph

Photo credit: Joseph Sohm/

After a presidential race infested with inflammatory rhetoric, Donald J. Trump was declared the winner earlier this morning – despite many polls predicting that Hillary Clinton would come out on top. But as the property tycoon prepares for his ascent to the White House in January, UK startups may have to strap themselves in for a bumpy ride.

“The immediate aftermath of Trump’s win is sure to be chaos – not just in the US but across the globe – as the world adjusts to this new divisive and incredibly powerful leader,” said Jo Sellick, managing director at Sellick Partnership, the recruitment agency. “Personally, I am shocked by the decision and the thought of Trump being in power is incredibly frightening.”

Given that markets have responded to the results by going into freefall, with the FTSE 100 tumbling by 1.5% and the German DAX index dropping by almost 3%, businesses may have good reason to feel jittery. “Trump’s victory brings a similar uncertainty as Brexit did,” said Christian Stadler, professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School. “We simply don’t know which of his campaign promises will translate into policy. For UK business, it’s a particularly big threat as trade with Europe is likely to decline as a result of Brexit. […] Trump has spoken out against free trade, so expect a dramatic rise in import duty in some industries such as steel.”

However, not all entrepreneurs are pessimistic about a Trump presidency. “It means Britain will have a pro-UK [and a Eurosceptic president]in the White House who will strongly push for a preferential trade relationship for the UK,” said Tim Prizeman, founder and director at Kelso Consulting, the PR agency. “It’s very good news for any business interested in trade with the US and very positive for the UK’s post-Brexit economy. Maybe Nigel Farage should be our Washington ambassador given his hustings support for Trump.”

Across the pond, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs aren’t exactly celebrating the election results, especially since 140 of them signed an open letter in July stating that “Trump would be a disaster for innovation.” For instance, Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, the business content sharing platform, tweeted: “You know those times where we watch other countries and are like ‘oh man you guys are crazy’. Shit that’s us now.”

Meanwhile, Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, the social network, and Slack, the cloud software company, simply stated: “We’re drinking the expensive stuff.”

Some entrepreneurs, though, were determined to get on with things. While the Canadian immigration website crashed this morning because so many Americans were exploring the possibility of making a dash to the north, Anil Dash, director at Expert Labs, the non-for profit incubator, was not one of them. “I am not moving to Canada,” he tweeted.” [I’m] not surprised by white supremacists and misogynists and not afraid of Donald Trump. We have got to get to work.”

Ultimately, it remains to be seen what a Trump presidency will look like but resilient startups in the UK are advised to keep a close eye on events across the pond in the months to come.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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