Timothy Simcoe

Questrom School of Business

Boston University

United States

Timothy Simcoe’s research covers topics in innovation, technology, intellectual property, and corporate strategy. He has consulted for major corporations in the information technology sector. During 2014 and 2015, Professor Simcoe served as a senior economist on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and an editor at several journals, including Management Science.

Voting History

Statement Comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Strongly Disagree “The answer to this question turns on how one thinks about resiliency and risk management. Many firms found that their supply chains were not as resilient as they assumed (similar to banks that discovered latent risks in the financial crisis). This will probably lead to greater emphasis on risk management and a reevaluation of some types of operational decisions. But the pandemic did not alter any of the fundamental lessons about value creation and value capture that form the core of business strategy. ”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Disagree “It could happen a bit at the margins, but I don’t think COVID-19 is going to completely reshuffle the geographic deck. There is a lot of sunk investment in large cities and plenty of evidence that economies of density are substantial. The stronger imperative is to build redundancies into international supply chains.”
The California Consumer Privacy Act will undermine the targeted advertising market by giving consumers the right to opt out of allowing companies to sell personal data to third parties. Disagree “So far, experience suggests that most people do not opt in to these programs. It’s hard to see a change unless no-sale becomes the default.”
In the wake of recent climate-related disasters and related events, such as the bankruptcy of PG&E, corporations are now planning for the increased operational risks and potential liabilities caused by climate change. Agree “I think large corporations are working on this. They feel pressure from various stakeholders, including some of their larger shareholders like BlackRock. I have no confidence that smaller firms on the competitive fringe are planning for risks created by climate change. And even the largest firms can do little about risk to shared infrastructure.”
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Agree “This is a sweeping statement, but on balance I agree (and especially so if mobile carriers are included among the ‘large tech platforms’). For some problems, such as privacy, regulation may beat antitrust. But we should toughen up on platform merger review and policing exclusionary practices.”
U.S. regulations have been rolled back in a number of areas, including emissions standards and clean water. Companies will decide to voluntarily adhere to rules that closely resemble the original standards. Agree “The auto companies clearly want to stick with a uniform (and more stringent) rule. Despite the DOJ’s threats, they should have antitrust liability under Noerr-Pennington, so I see California succeeding with auto emissions. I’m less informed and more worried about clean water, so it’s just ‘Agree’ instead of ‘Strongly Agree.’”
The Business Roundtable’s new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation indicates a shift away from shareholder value maximization as the sole purpose of the corporation and toward a broader view of value creation.
This shift will have material impact on the well-being of U.S. workers.
“One can debate the causes, but it's clear that the era of shareholder capitalism — starting with Friedman's op-ed, or maybe Reagan's election — has not been great for U.S. labor, especially compared to capital or top-percentile earners. I hope that this statement reflects a less credulous view of welfare economics among the next generation of top managers.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Strongly Agree “I believe OneWeb (and possibly other private satellite networks) stands a reasonable chance of generating sustainable profits.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Strongly Disagree “Which Chinese firms? Not the carriers, for whom competition is local. Not device makers, for whom 5G (because it’s a standard) will not be a differentiating feature. Maybe infrastructure producers, like Huawei or ZTE, but it looks like security concerns will harm them in the U.S., and their real advantage in addressable markets is cost-based.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Agree “My confidence is low on any question about market forecasting. But a working hypothesis is that current volatility reflects some combination of political uncertainties and the length of the expansion. I see few signs that politics will get less volatile over the next few years.”
A hard Brexit will have a significant negative impact on many businesses, even if they do not have a U.K. or European presence. Disagree “Hard to see the impacts without some sort of ‘presence,’ even though Brexit is clearly bad news for supply chains that run through the British Isles.”
China is no longer the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. Agree “For companies already in China, its slowing growth rate, political and regulatory risks, and long-standing concerns over IP theft make it look worse at the margin. But for companies not in China (which rules out most ‘Western multinationals’), the opportunity remains impossible to ignore.”
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Agree
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Strongly Disagree “Industry may be able to help society ‘innovate’ its way out of the worst climate change scenarios, but there is little evidence that self-regulation could provide an effective substitute for environmental policies that come with a credible threat of enforcement. Some industry-led programs may work well when there is ‘demand for green’ — but they will not be enough.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Neither Agree nor Disagree “I am no expert in the reputational impacts of raising wages (or not), but in the current labor market, it will be hard to distinguish ‘responding to Amazon’ from a competitive price.”
Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause US firms to to shift more operations overseas. Disagree “Literature says skilled immigrants boost U.S. firms’ foreign investment, so the relationship likely goes the other way. Without skills, however, no reason to think this implies more domestic investment.”
Uber has to develop self-driving cars in the next 10 years in order to remain viable. Disagree “All of my Uber drivers are now multi-homing. That’s a short-term problem. In the long-term, it’s hard to see Uber making the switch from competing for drivers to competing with them.”
A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers. Strongly Agree “Price increases will be shared between firms and consumers. Most firms will not pass through 100% of a cost increase. But the disruption to global supply chains will be felt more keenly by business.”
Concern over consumer privacy will fundamentally limit businesses’ ability to use big data. Disagree “For most businesses, real constraint is data availability, data quality, and knowing what to do with it. Privacy will not be the binding constraint.”