Will Trump Make American Innovation Great Again?

In January 2012, Dr Patrick Gallagher gave a speech at the FedScoop’s US Innovation Summit in Washington DC:

I’m going to give you some final parting thoughts on why we’re here, why we’re talking about innovation,’ Gallagher said.

One observation I’ll make: there was a Wall Street Journal article that was put out last month that talked about innovation, and it made a couple of interesting comments. It said if you look at the Securities and Exchange Commission collection of annual and quarterly reports that are filed with that agency, just last year, the word “innovation”  was mentioned 33,000 times. Now, that’s a 64 percent increase over just five years ago.

If you ask executives whether they have a chief innovation officer, about four in 10 will now say they do. But what’s really interesting is if you talk to them about why do you use the term, a common answer is “well everybody else does it.”

I think one of the reasons that we’re talking about innovation is that it is now sexy. This is something that everyone is excited about.

And Gallagher is 100% correct. Innovation is now seen as sexy. Almost all tech companies want to be seen as innovative or disruptive. But, the sad truth is, a lot of them aren’t.

The US has arguably the most innovative hub in the world, Silicon Valley. However many American companies are still struggling to invent and create.

According to a survey by Accenture [NYSE:ACN] in March this year:

U.S. companies are struggling with various innovation pursuits — continuing a problem they have been grappling with for the past three years…executives and managers within 500 U.S. companies reveals that six in 10 (60 percent) said their companies do not learn from past mistakes. This is nearly double the 36 percent who admitted to this three years ago when Accenture last conducted a similar survey.

The survey also shows that 82 percent admit they do not distinguish their innovation approaches between incremental versus large-scale transformational change — meaning they use a single “one-size-fits-all” approach to achieve different goals. Most respondents said they have “big” innovation ideas but are missing an organizational “home” with the company. So their ideas often go nowhere.

However, could this all soon change if Donald Trump gets elected?

Which side are you on?

The US presidential run is quickly coming to a close. It will either be Clinton or Trump that will command the most powerful country in the world. The options available to the American public aren’t great. Who would you choose? Hillary or Donald?

Whichever one you choose doesn’t really matter. What’s interesting is how you came to that decision. Did you choose based on their policies and ideas? Or did you choose because of their personality and theatrical persona?

If you made your decision based on their policies, you’d be a smart and well informed onlooker. Making decisions on policy alone is exactly how voting should be done. But it doesn’t always turn out this way. Character and persona will usually muddy the minds of voters.

However, it’s interesting to see who lines up with whom.

By themselves, Hillary and Donald aren’t that interesting, on the surface. But support from famous actors, activists and authors does wonders for a political campaign.

Clinton definitely has the A-list celebrities on her side. Stars such as Katy Perry, Eva Longoria, Oprah, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and even Warren Buffett have all voiced their support for Hillary Clinton. Those who endorse Trump on the other hand are Tom Brady, Jon Voight and Lou Ferrigno.

Interestingly, however, Donald Trump has support from one of the biggest names in tech.

Trump to bring back entrepreneurs

There aren’t many tech figureheads that support Trump. In fact, according to The New York Times, ‘The Trump campaign has raised US$300,000 from tech companies.’ This figure doesn’t even rank in Trump’s top 10 funders.

It’s fair to say he hasn’t gotten much love from the tech geeks.

However, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal Holdings Inc. [NASDAQ:PYPAL] and bestselling author, has just given the Trump campaign US$1.25 million, according to The New York Times.

If you who don’t know Peter Thiel, he’s one of the biggest names in the tech sector. After selling PayPal, Thiel founded Palantir Technologies, which is a private software and services company specialising in big data.

He also co-founded Founders Fund, a venture capital firm with US$2 billion in assets under management. His bestselling book, Zero to One, has been popular among would-be entrepreneurs.  Thiel was the earliest outside investor in Facebook Inc. [NASDAQ:FB], owning 10.2%. He sits on the board of Facebook and Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund with US$700 million under management.

Thiel’s donation now puts him high on Donald’s short list of big supporters. He’s sounded a populist tone rarely heard by entrepreneurs:

Across the country, wages are flat. Americans get paid less today than 10 years ago. But health care and college tuition cost more every year. Meanwhile, Wall Street bankers inflate bubbles in everything from government bonds to Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees. Our economy is broken. If you’re watching me right now, you understand this better than any politician in Washington DC.

However, it does seem strange that Thiel would support Trump. After all, Trump is less tech-friendly than Clinton. His stances on trade, immigration and innovation are at the forefront of his campaign. Trump has even lashed out at big tech companies, such as Amazon.com, Inc. [NASDAQ:AMZN] and Apple Inc. [NASDAQ:APPL].

Even a meeting between tech industry advisors and Trump’s team of advisors was largely considered a bust. So why would Thiel even like Trump?

Thiel has a reputation of being a contrarian. However, I believe innovation and entrepreneurship is exactly why he’s backing Trump. In his book Zero to One, Thiel emphasises vertical thinking, rather than lateral thinking. Vertical thinking is what creates entirely new products, processes or services.

These newly-created products and services are what will take us from zero to one. A great example is the peer-to-peer marketplace. Companies like Uber and Buymyhouse.com.au [ASX:BMH] have created a whole new marketplace.

Uber has created a true peer-to-peer ride sharing marketplace. And Buymyplace is looking to do the same with Australian real estate. These ideas create a win-win for everyone, and ultimately propel our society forward.

Will Trump have this effect on the US? Nobody knows. It’s looking like he won’t even win the presidential race at this point.

But advocates like Thiel are yearning for a leader to make America great again. It’s just a question of who, and when.

Härje Ronngard

Junior Analyst, Money Morning

PS: Investing in the stock market can be easy. Some may tell you that it’s hard, throwing complicated examples at you. But that’s because they’re interested in your money sitting in their back pocket!

Money Morning’s Publisher Kris Sayce has written a report all about investing isn’t as hard as you think simple and easy. Instead of taking your money, Kris wants to help you invest for yourself.

In Kris’ report, ‘The Ultimate Starters Guide for Buying and Selling Shares’, he’ll show you all the ins and outs of investing. What’s more, Kris will reveal the one type of stockbroker you should never use. And there’s also a secret you need to know about investing correctly.

To find out what that secret is, and more, pick up your free copy of Kris’ report by clicking here.

Money Morning is Australia’s most outspoken financial news service. Your Money Morning editorial team are not afraid to tell it like it is. From calling out politicians to taking on the housing industry, our aim is to cut through the hype and BS to help you make sense of the stories that make a difference to your wealth. Whether you agree with us or not, you’ll find our common-sense, thought provoking arguments well worth a read.

Money Morning Australia is published by Fat Tail Investment Research, an independent financial publisher based in Melbourne, Australia. As an Australian financial services license holder we are subject to the regulations and laws of Corporations Act and Financial Services Act.

Money Morning Australia