The company faces a mixed bag of possibilities. More restrictions on immigration, for instance, could adversely affect a key element of the company’s workforce. The tilt of possible tax policies, on the other hand, could be to its benefit.
Microsoft, a company whose employees and products span the globe, faces the prospect of a nationalist tinge to policies in its home country with the election of Donald Trump.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said in a report on Wednesday that Trump had outlined few specific policy positions on the technology industry.
But in areas where Trump had touched on the industry, the tone has occasionally been critical.
Trump’s hard line on immigration is at odds with the position of Microsoft and much of the company’s peers.
Most Read Business Stories
- Amazon-owned Whole Foods cuts healthcare benefits for part-time employees
- The market's chilled out, but Seattle home prices still too hot for many first-time buyers
- After three decades, Seattle's last black-owned funeral home struggles with displacement VIEW
- 'I was stupid': Huffman gets 14 days in college scam VIEW
- Amazon workers bring parents to work
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and the leader of the company’s legal and lobbying organization, has campaigned for an increase in the number of skilled workers the company can bring in to the country.
Microsoft, like many technology firms, has come to rely on guest workers who live in the U.S. under the H-1B visa program. During his campaign, Trump said he opposed the program, though his statements on the matter have also been contradictory. He, at times, indicated support for the visas, suggesting raising wages for visa holders and smoothing their path to receiving permanent residency.
The trade policy of a Trump administration could also concern Microsoft.
As a candidate, he opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the giant trade framework under consideration in Congress that Microsoft and much of American big business supported. He has struck a generally protectionist tone, and pledged to renegotiate existing trade deals.
At an event in September in Vancouver, B.C., Microsoft co-founder and board member Bill Gates said Microsoft was structured on the assumption that people, products and ideas could compete in an open global marketplace.
Though he didn’t mention Trump by name, Gates said the rebuke to a more interconnected world dealt by the Brexit vote and “some other things” was worrying.
“Microsoft and my foundation are really predicated on a huge amount of cooperation between all the different countries in the world,” Gates said.
A Trump administration could be good for Microsoft’s pocket book, however.
His tax plan would lower the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent, from 35 percent today. Trump has also proposed taxing foreign profits repatriated to the U.S. at a 10 percent rate.
Microsoft, which has structured its global operations to avoid U.S. taxes, at the end of June had more than $124 billion in income, untaxed in the U.S., held overseas. The company’s tax bill at the current rate were it to repatriate that sum would be $39 billion, the company says.
Other tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Oracle, also have large sums sitting overseas not subject to U.S. taxes.
In a blog post posted Wednesday afternoon, Smith offered Microsoft’s congratulations to Trump, and said he looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress.
The vote, he said, “registered a strong concern about the plight of those who feel left out and left behind.”
Smith, who in August hosted a fundraiser for Democractic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine, advocated investments in education and infrastructure. He also stuck up for Microsoft’s immigrant-heavy workforce.
“We’re committed to promoting not just diversity among all the men and women who work here, but the type of inclusive culture that will enable people to do their best work and pursue rewarding careers,” he said.