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硅谷困境

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技术公司和美国总统的亲密关系正在迅速地转冷
The love affair that technology firms had with America’s president is fading fastPASSING through California on a mid-term campaign swing, Barack Obama made a point of stopping off to see Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple. He also hob-nobbed with executives from Google and other Silicon Valley companies. More than any of his predecessors, Mr Obama likes to pay homage to the titans of technology. They, in turn, have lavished him with praise and political donations. But now many tech folk are worrying out loud that his government is not as serious about supporting innovation as it purports to be.
经历了一次加州中期选举的时候,奥巴马做出了一个决定,就是中途下车去看望苹果公司的老板史蒂夫乔布斯。他还和来自谷歌和其他硅谷公司的高管亲切交谈。超过他之前任何一位总统,奥巴马对于这些技术巨人十分尊崇。回过头来,他们也对给予了奥巴马赞美以及慷慨的政治捐献。但现在很多的科技界人士正在担心一种说法,就是政府不再像以往一样认真对待和支持技术创新。
The tech crowd thought the latest occupant of the White House was one of their own. An enigmatic politician with strong convictions, Mr Obama in many ways resembled the driven young spirits that venture capitalists love to take a punt on. And during the presidential campaign he wowed Silicon Valley with an elevator pitch that envisaged using social media and other technologies developed there to fashion a new and radical political order. Everything from Mr Obama’s addiction to his BlackBerry to his keenness to see maths and science promoted in schools suggested he would be the most tech-friendly president in history. Small wonder, then, that the techies swooned over him.
这群科技界人士曾认为最近的白宫居住者(即美国总统)是他们的人。奥巴马是一个具有强大信念的神秘政客,在很多方面都酷似雄心壮志的年轻人,很值得风险投资者为之一赌。在总统选举期间,他在简短演讲中为硅谷叫好,并称要使用在硅谷发明的社交媒体和其它技术建立一种新的进步的政治秩序。从奥巴马的黑莓控到他十分注重数学和科学在校园内的推广,这都表明他将会是有史以来对科技最有好感的总统。然后,技术狂人们为之倾倒便没有什么好奇怪的了。
Nor is it surprising that many of them are now starting to feel badly let down. “There’s a strong feeling that this government really lacks direction,” says Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association. Many of its 2,000 members, he adds, are unwilling to invest in new initiatives while there is so much uncertainty about future policy.
也并不是那么让人惊讶,他们中的许多人现在已经开始感到十分的失望。消费者电子协会的负责人,Gary Shapiro说:“他有种强烈的感觉,就是政府对经济发展缺乏导向。”他补充道,协会中的2000名会员由于未来政策的不确定性都不愿意在新兴行业里进行投资。
That is a familiar refrain. Michael Splinter, the boss of Applied Materials, which makes equipment for the semiconductor industry, is one of several prominent executives who have called on the government to do far more to tackle measures that deter investment. Another source of friction is the reluctance in Washington to reduce hefty taxes on foreign earnings repatriated to America. As many American tech firms make a large share of their revenue and profit outside the country, they are particularly exercised by the government’s reluctance to lighten this burden.
这其实是个老调重弹。Michael Splinter,是应用材料公司(他的公司主要为半导体行业提供设备)的老板。他是几名呼吁政府采取更多措施对制止投资行为进行处理的著名高管之一。另外一个摩擦的源头是,美国政府不愿意减少,原先对回流美国的外国收入采取的高额税收。由于很多美国科技公司很大份额的收入和利润都在国外,政府不愿意减轻这项负担就像特别为他们量身定做似的。
To make matters worse, tech leaders have been outraged by Mr Obama’s willingness to demonise employers for outsourcing work to foreign countries, which is especially popular within the IT industry, and by his grating sermons on the evils of corporate greed. “We’re praised for creating jobs, while being spanked at the same time,” complains Mark Heesen of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), which represents funds that invest in technology start-ups.
让事态更糟糕的是,奥巴马妖魔化了雇主将工作机会外包给其他国家,尤其是针对IT业,并对公司贪婪的邪恶进行了刺耳的说教。奥巴马的这些举动都激怒了科技界的领袖。全国风险投资协会(代表科技创投基金)的 Mark Heesen 抱怨道:“他们赞美我们创造了工作机会,而与此同时他们却狠狠地扇了我们一巴掌。”
This may seem like sour grapes. After all, the tech industry has been a big beneficiary of the Obama administration’s efforts to stabilise the economy. The government is investing over $100 billion to spur innovation in everything from renewable energy to health-care IT and electric cars. And it has at least taken some steps which the tech companies have long been lobbying for, including appointing a chief technology officer to promote technology innovations within the federal government, encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to roll out a national broadband plan and stepping up efforts to promote science and engineering skills in schools and colleges.
这看似酸葡萄心理。毕竟,科技工业已经成为奥巴马行政团队稳定经济的一大功臣。政府正投资了一千亿美元,以刺激从新能源到保健IT和电动汽车的各项革新。它至少已经采取了一些科技公司长期游说的措施。这些措施包括,任命一位首席科技官员来推动联邦政府的科技革新,鼓励联邦通信委员会出台国家宽带计划,和大力推动学校和大学的科学技术发展。
What about cleantech?
关于洁净科技(cleantech)?
Tech firms and venture capitalists welcome these initiatives, but are deeply frustrated by a lack of action in other areas. For instance, many cleantech start-ups and their backers were betting that Mr Obama would push through an energy bill that would force America to embrace alternative sources of energy more aggressively. But that came a cropper in the Senate.
科技公司和风险投资者们欢迎这些创新举措,但是也对在这些领域缺乏行动而深感沮丧。举个例子,许多洁净科技的创业者和他们的支持者,打赌奥巴马将会推出一项能源法案,以促进美国更积极地采用替代能源。但这只得到了参议院的一个种植者的响应。
Entrepreneurs complain bitterly about the government’s failure to deal with frustrating red tape. Luka Erceg, the boss of Simbol Materials, a start-up that produces lithium and other metals from brines and effluent, reckons he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and other fees applying for funds from the federal stimulus package. “There is just too much friction in getting capital to flow,” he says.
企业家忿恨地抱怨政府没有处理好那些烦人的繁文缛节。Simbol Materials,一家从卤水和污水中提取锂和其他金属的新兴企业。他的老板Luka Erceg,估计他花了成百上千的费用在法律和其他申请联邦经济刺激计划资金上了。他说:“获得这些用于周转的资金真是太难了!”
Then there is the thorny issue of trade. Some tech firms accuse the government of failing to put enough effort into trade agreements that would help to boost their sales. “We need fair and open markets and that takes a lot of work,” says John Chen, the chief executive of Sybase, an American software firm owned by Germany’s SAP. There are also worries that friction with China over exchange rates and other issues could damage the interests of American tech firms which have Chinese subcontractors and factories.
然后便是棘手的贸易问题。一些科技公司指责政府没有在提高他们销售额的贸易协定上下足功夫。一家由德国SAP控股的美国软件公司Sybase的首席执行官John Chen说:“我们需要公正、公开、并且提供大量工作的市场。”也有一些担心,有关于中国汇率以及其他问题可能会伤害,那些在中国有分包商和工厂的美国科技公司的利益。
The tech industry is also concerned about the difficulty of importing skilled labour. Tight visa controls on highly qualified immigrants have been a huge headache for firms such as Microsoft and IBM. And they infuriate venture capitalists, who claim the controls are robbing America of entrepreneurial talent. Demand for visas from skilled workers dipped during the recession, but it is likely to become a problem again as the economy recovers.
进口技术劳动力的困难也困扰着科技产业。对于高技术移民的严格签证限制一直是像微软和IBM这样公司头疼的大问题。他们同样激怒了风险投资者,那些风投者声称这些管制是对美国创业人才的掠夺。在经济萧条时期,技工对于签证需求下降了。但是随着经济复苏,这很可能再次成为一个问题。
Here again, Mr Obama has proved to be a disappointment. Many hoped he would try to convince Congress to separate skilled people from broader immigration issues, but he has been reluctant to do so. Might that change after the mid-terms? Mr Heesen of the NVCA points out that the notion of making it easier for America to attract the best and brightest has already won some bipartisan support. John Kerry, a Democratic senator, and Dick Lugar, a Republican one, have sponsored a proposal to give visas to some immigrants keen to start new businesses.
到此,奥巴马已经不止一次被证明是令人失望的。许多人希望他努力说服国会将技术移民从宽泛的移民问题中剥离出来。但他已经不情愿去做这些了。在中期选举之后会发生什么改变么?NVCA的Heesen指出让美国更容易地吸引最好最优秀的人才的理念,已经赢得了一些两党人士的一直支持。民主党参议员John Kerry和共和党参议员 Dick Lugar已经发起了一个提议,给予那些热衷于开创新事业的移民签证。
Tech folk have not given up on Mr Obama altogether. The Valley’s campaign donations to Democrats still greatly outpace those made to Republican candidates. No doubt they are hoping that the first “tech president” will at last live up to their expectations. In a speech in Silicon Valley, Mr Obama reiterated that he wants to create the conditions in America that would give rise to the next Google and the next Hewlett-Packard. But he will have to do much more to convince the tech industry that he really means it.
技术界并没有完全放弃奥巴马。硅谷给予民主党人的竞选捐赠仍然远远地超过了给予共和党竞选人的。毋庸置疑的是,他们希望这第一位“技术总统”最终不辜负他们的期望。在硅谷的一份演讲中奥巴马重申将会为美国诞生下一个谷歌或者下一个惠普创造条件。但他将不得不付出更多的努力来说服科技产业,他真的是认真的。
标签:硅谷 蜜月期
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2010-11-01 21:06 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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