This column has been updated to note recent stock price movements.
That there's little love lost between Donald Trump and Silicon Valley is hardly a new revelation. But while a Trump Administration's relationship with the tech elite is bound to be more distant and chillier than a Clinton Administration's would have been, its policies may simply be sub-optimal for the tech sector rather than disastrous -- and with some notable silver linings.
While broader equity markets are up since Trump's surprise election win, tech stocks -- and large-cap techs in particular -- have underperformed. Facebook (FB) is down 4.3% from Tuesday's close, while Apple (AAPL) is down 2.2%, Amazon (AMZN) is down 6.4%, Netflix (NFLX) has dipped 7.4%, Tesla Motors (TSLA) is down 4.4% and Alphabet (GOOGL) is down 5.2%.
When looking at this divergence, it's worth keeping in mind that many of the aforementioned names have been market standouts over the last couple of years. Amazon, for example, had risen 152% from the start of 2015 to last Tuesday. Facebook was up 59% over the same time, and Alphabet 53%.
Thus it's easy to see why the injection of some political uncertainty into the outlooks of these companies could spark some profit-taking, and perhaps a rotation of funds into sectors money managers are more certain will have a favorable political environment to work with.
On one hand, a lack of the close ties prominent tech execs formed with the Obama Administration, and appeared set to maintain with a Clinton Administration, could cause some problems. Obama, who recently guest-edited an issue of Wired magazine and gave the publication a thoughtful interview on various tech topics, has been willing to lend an ear to Silicon Valley's views on issues such as autonomous driving regulations, encryption keys, artificial intelligence research and STEM education funding.
Trump, who appears to know much less about tech and briefly called for a boycott of Apple in response to the company's unwillingness to help break the encryption on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, probably won't be holding talks with the likes of Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as frequently. That could be an issue when, say, Google or Apple wants federal rules quickly implemented that make it easier for self-driving cars to hit the road.
And on telecom policy, the return of Republican FCC control could yield a more hands-off approach that works to the benefit of telcos and cable companies. Trump opposes the net neutrality rules set by the FCC last year, which prevent ISPs from blocking or slowing down content from specific service providers, or charging extra to others for access to a "fast lane" -- that's important for bandwidth-hungry sites such as Netflix and Google's YouTube. A Trump Administration FCC also might not be keen on efforts such as the Commission's recent attempt to open up the set-top market.