( L to R) Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump
Image: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images
The giants of Silicon Valley gathered at Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday to meet with the president-elect and discuss the future of tech for the purposes of the incoming administration and, presumably, to smooth over some linger( one-sided) feuds.
Trump, along with tech billionaire Peter Thiel, beckoned the group to the gold-plated tower for the sit-down, the group comprising of tech leaders whose blended value is around an eye-popping$ 3 trillion.
The tech moguls trickled in slowly ahead of the afternoon session. Some traipsed in through the back entrance, so cameras only got a good look at them as they stepped before the golden elevators now known as the gates that lead to the realm of the president elect.
Others walked right in the front, some surrounded by small entourages, largely dismissing the photographers and video journalists penned along the wall opposite the elevators, screaming whatever questions came to mind. The elevator doors parted, and up they went, speaking only to those around them.
The Silicon Valley luminaries sat a large round table and were joined by several members of the Trump administration including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, chief advisor Steve Bannon, and chief-of-staff Reince Priebus. Also joining the group were three of Trump’s infants: Ivanka, Eric, and Donald, Jr.
The meeting began with a round of introductions in which Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg conveyed optimism about the meeting.
Trump addressed the guests, calling the gathered leaders, “a truly amazing group of people, ” and adding “I’m here to help you folks do well … we want you to keep going with the unbelievable innovation.”
Trump then spoke of “border problems” considering trade and added, “We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders.”
Read Trump’s full opening remarks below.
The attendees exited the building in a staggered procession , no one stopping to speak to the assembled press in the foyer or outside.
Trump has few allies in Silicon Valley aside from Thiel, who spoke at this summer’s Republican National Convention. The PayPal founder has also been serving as a is part of Trump’s transition team.
But that didn’t stop the pair from inviting some of the biggest names in tech. According to published reports, guests included: Apple’s Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Palantir’s Alex Karp, Oracle’s Safra Catz, Cisco Systems’ Chuck Robbins, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
Left out in the cold, apparently, was Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, an ironic twisting devoted Trump’s love of the platform which he’s praised as being a direct line of communication to his millions of followers( that’s also allowed him to bypass any press interaction ).
Also absent on Wednesday was Bill Gates, though that’s because Gates talked to Trump on Tuesday. Talking to the media afterwards, Gates made a head-scratching comparing between Trump and JFK in terms of his openness to innovation.
Trump on tech
For his part, Trump has roundly criticized several of the companies in attendance. But his views on tech and apparent lack of understanding are also concerning to many in Silicon Valley. Trump has expressed his support for NASA’s space exploration but, as a climate change denier, he’s dedicated little support to the organization’s Earth science studies.
Trump also displays what can best be described as a “tenuous” grasp as to how the internet runs. Speaking of how to fight ISIS and ISIS recruitment, Trump has said , We must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately. Of course, just simply shutting down the internet, for whatever reason, isn’t exactly how things work.
That same misunderstanding extends to cyber-security. Just this week, speaking to reports that Russian hackers interfered with the presidential election, Trump tweeted, “Unless you catch “hackers” in the purposes of the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking.” Well, that’s incorrect and plenty of cyber-security experts told him so.
Finally, perhaps most worrisome is Trump’s stance on net neutrality. He( in) famously opposed President Obama advocating having the FCC reclassify broadband internet as a utility like water or energy.( This allows for more stringent regulation of companies that provide internet access .) And he could roll back even more Obama regulations over internet service providers.
One of the most interesting facet of Wednesday’s meeting is how Trump will treat some of the attendees who were on the receiving aim of Trump’s ire during the campaign.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg( not in attendance Wednesday) was attacked by Trump for his immigration posture and the campaign subsequently slammed Zuck as a “hypocrite” for opposing Trump’s border wall proposal but living in a gated community.
He also took shootings at Jeff Bezos and his two biggest assets, Amazon and the Washington Post .
For his part, Bezos was gracious upon Trump’s electoral victory – a far cry from his suggestion last year that we send Trump to space.
Trump also picked a big fight with Apple, putting the company on blast when they refused to assist the FBI with accessing a locked iPhone used by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack.
After Trump’s victory, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an internal email that called on employees to unify as they moved forward into the Era of Trump.
And, lest they be left out, Trump took a shot at Google in the closing days of the race, accusing them, along with Twitter and Facebook, of interring bad news about Hillary Clinton.
Additional reporting by Colin Daileda