The CEO of a $1 billion (£810 million) Silicon Valley software company believes the world is approaching a tech-driven employment crisis, which contributed to Donald Trump’s surprise election victory
Tien Tzuo, the cofounder and CEO of Zuora, told Business Insider during a recent interview in London: “Technology is changing the workforce, it’s changing the employment market.”
Tzuo says: “There are less manufacturing jobs. You talk about the fourth industrial revolution — that’s not letting up. It’s going to obsolete more and more jobs at a faster and faster pace. The workforce is not able to keep up with it in terms of the locations, the skills and all these other issues.”
If we don’t solve [the jobs issue] there’s going to be a class of population that’s going to hold us back from moving towards the future
Tzuo says: “If we don’t solve [the jobs issue] there’s going to be a class of population that’s going to hold us back from moving towards the future — rightfully so, because society needs to deal with their issues.”
Tzuo, who was an early employee of Salesforce before setting up Zuora, linked Donald Trump’s shock election victory in the US to the tech-driven labour market trends.
“You’re moving from a $50 an hour manufacturing job because you’re in a union to a $12 an hour job at Walmart or Starbucks that’s non-union,” Tzuo said. “It doesn’t work! People are blaming trade and immigration as a result but it’s not that. Immigration is not taking away jobs. Trade in the US has actually shrunk over the last 4 or 5 years. When everything is a service, what is there to trade?
On Trump voters, he said: “It’s not that these guys are all racists and sexists, sure there’s some fringe factor of that, but that’s not the core issue. The core issue is they need a future. Without a future, they lash out in different ways.”
But Tzuo added: “The trend towards globalisation is inevitable. There might be some ups and downs, one step forward, two steps back, but it’s not like the pendulum is swinging permanently the other way. We’ve just got to work through some social issues.”
“I think as a society we’ve got to figure out how do we create jobs for people and if there literally are going to be fewer jobs then how can we establish a minimum wage or basic income for folks. How exactly you do that depends on the society, the rules.”
California-based Zuora provides software to businesses that lets them easily accept subscriptions. Founded in 2007, the company has grown in-line with the rise of the so-called “on demand” economy — services like Uber and Deliveroo — subscription services such as Netflix, and the cloud computing industry, which typically sees businesses and people rent software hosted in the cloud rather than buy it.
Zuora processes around $35 billion (£28.2 billion) worth of transactions for over 800 customers around the world and employs 600 people globally. The company has raised over $240 million (£193.7 million) in funding to date and was valued at over $1 billion (£810 million) in its most recent funding round.
Tzuo told BI he did not think Trump’s election would damage Silicon Valley’s tech economy, despite the President-elect’s promise to stand up for many of the people damaged by technology trends and his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“I’m not going to go work for Google, chase my high-tech dreams, because of Trump? That’s not computing.”
He was speaking to BI at Zuora’s “Subscribed” conference in London last week. Britain is a major international market for the company and it works with the likes of British Gas, the Financial Times, Brandwatch, and the Telegraph.
Tzuo said Brexit “does create more headaches” for Zuora in the UK “but in the short term it doesn’t change our strategy.”