Column outlines tech leaders’ agenda for Obama’s second term

Note to newly re-elected President Obama: Silicon Valley is looking for a return on its investment.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, San Francisco and Silicon Valley contributed more to Obama’s re-election campaign than any other area of the country, more even than New York. And now tech leaders want something in return: action on their top agenda items.

In a column with the Washington Post, tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa lays out a list of seven demands that he gleaned from talking to tech leaders including Ron Conway, Marc Andreesen and Vinod Khosla. Topping their wish list were immigration and education reform and a more competitive, more open Internet.

“During his many trips to Silicon Valley, the president made a number of promises. Now that he has won, the Valley expects him to keep his end of the bargain,” Wadhwa writes.

Included in Wadhwa’s list are items that are likely to prove controversial, even in Silicon Valley. He includes, for example, a demand that the government abolish software patents. Given how much Apple in particular has invested in buying, developing and defending its patents, my guess is that demand won’t go over well in Cupertino, among other places.

Wadhwa also includes a demand for “rewards” for investments in startups. Among the suggestions in this item are decreasing capital gains tax rates to 0 for long-term investments and providing tax cuts to companies for every 100 workers they hire. But Obama has been clear about wanting to raise capital gains taxes — at least in certain cases. And with corporations posting record profits and tech companies like Apple already finding numerous ways to reduce their tax burdens below that of most other companies, calls to further reduce the tax burden on technology companies may fall on deaf ears.

But what do you think of Wadhwa’s list? Is there anything you’d add — or subtract?



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