Like it or not, Donald Trump has disrupted politics. You might even say he is the first Silicon Valley president. What Amazon did to bookstores, Napster to music and Uber to taxis, Mr. Trump has done to the Republican Party, presidential elections and maybe global governance. “Move Fast and Break Things” posters were plastered all over Facebook. Sound familiar?
On the surface, Mr. Trump and Silicon Valley are oil and water. He’s a real estate guy. Highly leveraged. From a family business. Scorns immigrants. Antitrade. But they definitely share disruptive DNA. No respect for authority. High risk, high return. People think you’re crazy, tilting at windmills. Self-driving cars? Trump as president? It’s all crazy until it isn’t.
Like Silicon Valley, Mr. Trump breaks all the rules. Amazon fought state sales taxes while it grew. Uber ignored cease-and-desist orders. Napster never even heard of copyrights. Mr. Trump insulted opponents, dispensed with a ground game, and didn’t bother with much TV advertising. Every entrepreneur reads the book “The Lean Startup.” Mr. Trump could write “The Lean Campaign.”
Both view Twitter as a weapon of mass (media) disruption. Like Mr. Trump, many in Silicon Valley speak in sentence fragments—a perfect fit for Twitter’s 140-character limitation. Mr. Trump is obsessed with his poll numbers the same way Silicon Valley obsesses with likes and retweets and harvesting followers.
Mr. Trump has a unique relationship with the truth (see Theranos). He appears thin-skinned (see Steve Jobs). And much as Amazon has quietly built a world-beating cloud business and Uber a delivery company, Mr. Trump often says one thing to distract opponents while he does something else.
Mr. Trump wants to make America great again, while Silicon Valley wants to make the world a better place. And life imitates art, which imitates life. On HBO’s fictional “Silicon Valley,” Gavin Belson, CEO of Google-like Hooli, Trumpingly declares: “I don’t want to live in a world where someone makes the world a better place better than we do.”