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This week: The trade war’s ripples are stirring up rough seas across the tech landscape.
As the stock market gets whipsawed by Trump’s on-again, off-again trade war with China, and fears of a recession mount, tech companies are in tough position. If you’re Tim Cook, you can get an audience with Trump and try to sweet-talk the commander-in-chief into granting Apple a special dispensation. For most companies though, there’s not much to do besides crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
As Rosalie Chan reports, the risks and uncertainty are not limited to tariffs on hardware companies reliant on China supply chains. Businesses in the cloud are also vulnerable, as was evident in cybersecurity company Cloudflare’s IPO paperwork. Cloudflare called out the tough trade negotiations and tensions between the US and Chinese governments in its S-1 filing, noting that its local Chinese partner could choose to terminate its partnership early, or not renew it. If that happens, Cloudflare could be locked out of the China market right before its IPO.
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Cloudflare’s China business hinges on a partnership that’s threatened by the trade war. And it could all blow up in September, the same month Cloudflare wants to IPO.
Interview: NetApp’s CEO says the trade war won’t end this year and the tech company is preparing for ‘a variety of difficult outcomes’
In an interview with Ben Pimentel, NetApp CEO George Kurian (whose identical twin brother is the CEO of Google Cloud) spoke of the impact that the ongoing trade and economic uncertainty is having on capital spending among large corporations — a worry echoed by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins. If Kurian’s bleak outlook on the trade war is shared by other tech execs, business leaders are likely bracing for a long winter: “We don’t expect normalization of the trade regime this calendar year,” Kurian says.
A high-ranking executive at Palantir, the big data company criticized for aiding the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, is now at Google.
Arvind KC, who worked for Palantir for almost five years as its chief information officer, was hired in July by Google to be a vice president of engineering, Rob Price and Nick Bastone reported. KC is now a VP of “Corporate Engineering” in the Google Cloud business.
It’s an interesting move, given that Google employees have been among the most active in opposing current US immigration policies, and famously revolted last year over the company’s AI contract with the Pentagon. It will be interesting to see if other Palantir insiders head for the door, as the Silicon Valley startup cofounded by Peter Thiel is increasingly associated with the Trump administration.
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Google has quietly hired a key executive from controversial startup Palantir to be a VP of engineering
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