Will Tech Leaders Jump Into Politics in Next Four Years?

January 25, 2017 - 2 minutes read

What is the pre-requisite to being president? “Being a billionaire,” some might argue—and many have been, or at least multi-millionaires, before running for the nations highest office.

So when rumors started flying that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook might be planning a presidential bid for 2020, the tech press didn’t bat an eye—in fact, the move might even make sense.

That being said, app developers will be disappointed to hear that the poster child of unicorn app ideas will not be running for president, or at least so he told Buzzfeed in a recent interview.

After denying that he might run, Zuckerburg went on to say that “I’m focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” App developers in San Francisco have been quick to point out certain activities he’s taken that smack of political ambition: taking a step back from atheism, for starters. His announced personal goal of speaking to people from every state in the US also seems telling, suggesting he might be seeking to figure out how to connect with a broader demographic outside the west coast tech community.

That could be a major challenge for Zuckerburg, or any major mobile app developer or tech leader looking to get into politics, as tech is often cast in a negative light as automation, AI, and services like Uber contribute in their own ways to the shrinking job market for Americans who used to depend on high-pay manufacturing jobs.

Governorship might be a more realistic option in the near future, particularly in California, the home base of the tech workforce who overwhelmingly came out in support of Sanders and Hillary this fall.

Could another private-sector billionaire be the next president of the United States? If so, it’s likely that person would come from the mobile and tech economy. After all, it’s one of the only economies growing consistently, weathering out rocky markets and politics alike.

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