Yesterday, the US voted to elect Donald Trump as its next president, and no shortage of tech industry figures have taken time today to publicly melt down in interviews with the press and on Twitter. Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar wants California to secede and Slack CEO Stuart Butterfield said he was “heartbroken.” Meanwhile, Facebook is on the defensive, refusing to acknowledge that its algorithmic News Feed may have had an adverse effect on the public’s ability to digest unbiased information during the election cycle.
Over in Redmond, Microsoft is just being Microsoft. In a statement posted to LinkedIn this afternoon, CEO Satya Nadella provided perhaps the safest series of thoughts one could possibly have about the outcome of last night’s race and the prospective path of the country. It began with the revelation that, “Yesterday we witnessed the democratic process in action here in the US.” Indeed we did, Satya. An election was had. There was a winner, and a loser. Votes were cast, and some counted earlier than others.
The statement goes on:
The results are of importance around the world, and I know that interest is shared among Microsoft employees. We congratulate the president-elect, and look forward to working with all those elected yesterday. Our commitment to our mission and values are steadfast, and in particular fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.
One can only hope “interest” was “truly shared among Microsoft employees.” It is quite telling of Microsoft’s corporate mentality that Nadella is walking such a fine line here, seemingly terrified of upsetting one side of the aisle. The company has never been quite as outspoken as, say, Apple under CEO Tim Cook, who has publicly advocated for environmental conservation and gay rights. So it’s not a huge surprise Microsoft doesn’t want to play that game on the day after a polarizing, unprecedented election.
Yet it’s not exactly reassuring either. To hit home the innocuous banality of his position, Nadella links to a post by Microsoft’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith. The post, titled “Moving forward together: Our thoughts on the US election,” gives little actual thoughts on the US election. Instead, it’s a somewhat lengthy plea in defense of a cozy relationship with the White House in an uncertain time for the tech industry, given Trump’s anti-immigration policies and trade agreement stances.
It’s clear Microsoft, like its competitors and contemporaries, is worried about a souring relationship with Washington and its bottom line. By putting out such platitudes, Nadella may be congratulating president-elect, but he’s also crossing his fingers that Trump doesn’t follow through on some of his tech-adverse campaign promises.