On Wednesday, December 14, 2016, Donald Trump and Mike Pence (seated to Trump’s immediate right) met at Trump Tower with key players in the technology sector.
- Peter Thiel1, board member of Facebook and RNC speaker
- Apple CEO Tim Cook
- Jeff Bezos of Amazon and The Washington Post
- Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet and Google
- Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
- Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX
- Oracle CEO Safra A. Catz
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith
- Intel CEO Brian Krzanich
- Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins
- IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
Donald Trump’s children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. were also in attendance along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey was conspicuously absent, since Trump used the platform so widely during and after the election. Recode reports he was not invited. However, Jack didn’t miss the opportunity to sent a strong anti-surveillance message to Trump with his video interview of Edward Snowden. Other members of the tech aristocracy were also not invited as reported by Fortune.
Recode provides the following seating chart.
Apparently Trump welcomed the guests and began with some bragging about “the bounce.” Recode reports:
“Trump told them his regime is ‘going to be here for you. You’ll call my people, you’ll call me. We have no formal chain of command around here.’”
Everyone introduced themselves. The press was ushered out of the room. The two-hour meeting was reported to include conversation about trade, immigration, vocational education, job creation and economic growth. Inquiring minds want to know what else was on the agenda.
Reportedly the tech elite agreed, at Trump’s suggestion, to meet quarterly. Some report that’s doubtful. MacRumors reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook remained at Trump Tower after the meeting and talked with Trump privately. I wonder if they discussed the tax code and the tech giant repatriating cash back into the US?
Recode Followed Up
According to Kara Swisher, at Recode,
Most sources close to the attending executives thought the presence of the Trump children was inappropriate. People felt they took the place of other key players not invited to the meeting. Jared Kushner, Trump’s Son-in-law, apparently got things started and “seemed more engaged than any other administration member there.” “It was clear that Kushner was the one thinking about this stuff and framing it.” reported one source in the meeting.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella brought up immigration and H-1B visas. Trump said, “Let’s fix that.” Reportedly he said “What can I do to make it better?” Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned a need for STEM education. Trump, interestingly, turned this into a “a speech about school choice and state control of education.” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg brought up maternity leave. Trump called on Vice President-elect Mike Pence to handle that.
Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that governmental information-technology programs were antiquated, unsafe, and need to be updated. He suggested Trump be the “software president.” Apparently his comment was misheard as “soft president” to which everyone laughed.
Overall, one source said, the meeting was “weird, but not as awkward as it could have been.” Another said Trump was “reasonable and fair the whole time.”
Kara felt the meeting was little more than a photo op to lend legitimacy to the coming administration. She felt these leaders missed an opportunity to take a public, joint stand on key and significant issues. The executives themselves felt put in a very difficult place. Her entire article, Who said what inside the Trump tech meeting: Immigration, paid maternity leave and becoming the ‘software president’ is worth reading.
The significance of the Trump administration, with Mike Pence seated at the table, cozying up to the tech elite is probably far-reaching and worthy of careful consideration. Stay tuned.
- New York Times: ‘I’m Here to Help,’ Trump Tells Tech Executives at Meeting
- New York Times: Daily Report: Tech Executives Meeting Trump Are in a Tough Spot
- Washington Post: The biggest names in tech just made nice with Trump
- Washington Post: Trump tells anxious tech leaders: ‘We’re here to help’
- MacRumors: Apple CEO Tim Cook Attends Executive Tech Summit at Trump Tower
- Recode: Who said what inside the Trump tech meeting: Immigration, paid maternity leave and becoming the ‘software president’
who reportedly put this meeting together ↩