Tech Crawl: Tech industry and Trump agree on taxes

Plus: Samsung on track for record profits, and a book explores the life of Austin native and Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

Posted April 27th, 2017

It’s earnings season, which means we’re getting our quarterly glimpse at how tech companies are performing financially. Here’s what companies are reporting, plus other top tech news:

Tech industry and Trump agree on taxes

The tech industry hasn’t been on the friendliest terms with President Donald Trump, but they do appear to agree on one thing: cutting corporate taxes.

Recode reports that “Apple and Google appear to have put aside their differences with the Republican commander-in-chief after he unveiled a tax reform plan...that could dramatically lower their tax bills and help them return to the U.S. billions of dollars in profits currently overseas.”

Trump’s proposals include dropping the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent. And he wants to make it cheaper for companies to return foreign profits back to the United States by offering a one-time tax break. Of course, this is all just in the proposal stage for now -- Congress has to sign off on it.

Despite a corruption scandal and exploding phones, Samsung’s business is doing OK

Reuters reports that Samsung “still managed to book a profit that supports expectations for record earnings in 2017.” This is despite a political corruption scandal that includes Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee and all the bad publicity from last year surrounding its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 phones.

The company reported profit of $8.75 billion and revenue of $44.13 billion, Reuters said. The positive earnings report was fueled by their memory chip business.

The life of Silk Road founder and Austin native Ross Ulbricht studied in new book

Astute readers of the Austin American-Statesman will remember the tale of Ross Ulbricht, an Austin native and graduate of Westlake High School, who was convicted two years ago of creating and operating an underground website called Silk Road that allowed drug dealers to reach customers.

Now a book is out by Nick Bilton that dives into how an ordinary computer engineering graduate student could morph into someone operating a drug-buying website who -- SPOILER ALERT -- was willing to commission hit men to kill work acquaintances over stolen money.

Vanity Fair has adapted part of the book in the latest issue of its magazine.

The story is a little heavy-handed in its portrayal of Ulbricht as some naive Texas boy from a small town. Only to a New York-based publication would Austin seem provincial. And the whole “murder mystery” angle is way overblown -- no one was actually murdered. But the story does offer some fascinating details about what led Ulbricht to start Silk Road, and his  increasingly secret life pre-arrest.

(Also, ICYMI, here’s what Ulbricht’s mother had to say about his conviction in a SXSW talk two years ago.)