Less than a month after his re-election, President Obama has delivered a slap in the face to many of the Silicon Valley firms like Apple, Google, Adobe and Microsoft, who gave hefty financial support to his campaign. The White House announced yesterday that Obama is opposing the STEM Act of 2012, which is set for a House vote on Friday. This act would make as many as 55,000 visas available to foreigners who have earned a masters or doctoral degree in science or tech from a U.S. university. SiliconANGLE Founding Editor Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins described it as ” . . . a bill tailor-made for boosting the tech sector in Silicon Valley and . . . designed to help the tech sector find highly educated workers that have come to our colleges.”
Hopkins could only speculate as to Obama’s change of heart. “I would have to guess it’s something political; there’s some sort of compromise going on behind the scenes.” Hopkins said with so many fiscal issues coming to a head soon, the STEM Act is just going to be one of many sacrifices made at the altar. Hopkins believed that the bill will have a hard time making it through the House unaltered, but that it would have an easier time in the Senate. In Hopkins’ opinion, Silicon Valley is typically ignored, and thus he has his doubts that the bill will survive.
Feledy re-visited the discussion she had with Hopkins post-election about Obama’s tech agenda. In that interview, Hopkins had mentioned the possibility of the FTC bringing up anti-trust hearings regarding Google. According to a Bloomberg report, Google CEO Larry Page met with FTC representatives yesterday to participate in settlement talks in an effort to avoid potential litigation. There are multiple issues being addressed in these discussions, but the one that was in the hot seat for the past few years is finally starting to cool down, and that’s the one of search monopoly. This refers to the accusations that Google promotes its own results over third party services in its search feature. The primary issue now is privacy violations, in terms of how much Google can track, how much should be legal for Google to track, and how much access should Google give to the random web surfer, all of which, Hopkins said, are moot points because it’s very easy to remove yourself from Google’s tracking.
Overall, Hopkins feels that Google will make any concessions necessary that will allow them to continue to be one company and preserve their position in the industry. See the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins on the Morning NewsDesk Show.