- Tech investors in Europe and the US are gripped by a tense wait on the results of the US election.
- European investors are eyeing ramifications for the H-1B visa and the influence on the US-China technology arms race.
- Data indicates that US investors overwhelmingly contributed to the Democratic Party. Those who spoke with us said they were wary of higher corporate taxes under a Biden presidency.
- One investor said immigration reform would kill Silicon Valley’s monopoly on talent.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Venture capitalists on either side of the Atlantic have weighed in on a nail-biter race for the White House — which has yet to determine whether incumbent President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden will spend the next four years in the Oval Office.
Biden is narrowing the gap with Trump in key states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Business Insider asked tech investors in the US and Europe to share their gut reactions to the news so far.
Matt Clifford, the cofounder and CEO of the startup accelerator Entrepreneur First, told Business Insider he had been predicting a “big and clear” win for Biden.
Speaking from his home in London, Clifford, who has a master’s degree in American politics, said the neck-and-neck race was a “disaster” for pollsters.
“I thought they were treated unfairly in 2016, given a Trump win was within the margin of error. But this is unquestionably a disaster,” he said.
No matter who ends up taking the presidency, Clifford said US policy toward high-skilled immigrants would be of great interest to the tech sector.
Last month, Trump announced major changes to the H-1B visa program, which allows high-skilled foreign workers to be employed in the US and was considered an asset that allowed American startups to import talent.
The changes introduce new obstacles for visa holders and are being challenged by major US tech firms in court. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella both once held H-1B visas.
Biden has suggested he would ease the visa restrictions, though potentially not all of them.
Clifford also pointed to the emerging “arms race” between the US and China for dominance of artificial intelligence and quantum-computing technologies.
“Whatever happens, I think Europe is going to be a lot wearier of letting the US take the lead on these issues in the West,” he said.
Ophelia Brown, a cofounder and general partner at Blossom Capital, said the election served as a reminder for European entrepreneurs to “keep their foot to the pedal.”
She said: “Whichever candidate ends up in the White House, tech companies in Europe have a huge opportunity ahead of them, and should keep their attention on dealing with the opportunities and challenges directly in front of them.”
Meanwhile Spencer Lake, a partner at Element Ventures, said the tightening polls offered an “unfortunate commentary on the divisiveness that exists in the US.” He added: “Hopefully, the naturally strong business acumen of the American people will continue to prevail, regardless of the outcome.”
Eyes on the future
PitchBook data indicates that venture capitalists donated $69.7 million to the 2020 election with about 80% going to Democratic candidates and organizations.
Investors are keen to see more support for the H-1B program from Biden and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, but not everything they bring is viewed as a positive.
Logan Allin, a managing partner at Fin Venture Capital, said he believed the Biden administration would be a strong net positive but predicted an increase in corporate taxes, which would “drag on earnings” and the potential for “higher long-term capital gains,” affecting innovation in the sector.
Immigration reform and higher corporate taxes could be a net positive for Europe, however, according to Stephen McIntyre, a founding partner at Frontline, a venture-capital fund that specializes in helping US companies set up in Europe.
“Tighter US immigration controls and COVID-induced remote work have blown open the global market for skilled talent,” he told Business Insider. “Silicon Valley is losing its monopoly on tech talent, and we expect to see US startups hire more engineers and executives in Europe, which remains the first destination for US tech companies overseas.”
For the latest news on the 2020 US election, follow Business Insider’s live coverage here.