Trump Meets with Top Tech CEOs in Summit Focused on Success
By Shirley Siluk / CIO Today. Updated December 14, 2016.
A few hours before meeting with top tech company executives this afternoon, President-elect Donald Trump named Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla CEO Elon Musk to his administration's business advisory council.
Later in the day, Trump reportedly struck a "conciliatory tone" in his meeting with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York City, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Among those attending the tech summit with the president-elect were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Google-Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Musk was also in attendance, while Kalanick has been traveling in India this week.
Several other Trump administration representatives were also on hand, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, three of Trump's adult children -- Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka -- along with Trump advisor Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is currently serving on the executive committee of the president-elect's transition team.
Aim for 'Easier Trade across Borders'
Trump began today's get-together by telling executives he wanted to "help you folks do well." He added his administration aimed to promote fair trade and "make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders."
Such comments are contrary to some of the criticisms Trump had for certain tech companies during the presidential campaign. For example, he repeatedly made an issue of the fact that companies like Apple manufacture products overseas instead of basing their factories in the U.S. He also openly clashed with The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, and revoked the paper's press credentials for a time.
Notable for its absence in today's meeting was Twitter, which Trump has famously used heavily for both his political and personal views. The Wall Street Journal noted that the summit was arranged by both Thiel and Kushner. "Their presence at the meeting could help smooth relations between Mr. Trump and tech companies he has scolded," the paper said.
'Tech Leaders Need To Be Bold'
Yesterday, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who also attended today's meeting, penned a commentary for USA Today pointing out that the challenge facing her industry today is not "white collar vs. blue collar jobs, but about the 'new collar' jobs that employers in many industries demand, but which remain largely unfilled."
Rometty closed her column by stating, "We will not always agree, but progress in job creation will come from open discussion and engagement. Together, we must work to reform education, policy and strategic approaches -- in the U.S. and around the world -- for today's job opportunities that will build a future of growth and prosperity."
The civil rights-focused Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday also offered some advice for technology leaders heading into the Trump era, urging them to press the president-elect on issues such as encryption and Internet censorship.
Trump, "understands the power of technology to speak directly to users and communicate to a willing audience. Tech leaders need to be equally bold," the EFF said. "They must stand up for all of the users of these tools and reject efforts to weaken the privacy and security that their users rely on. And users need a seat at this table. Mr. Trump, we're waiting for your call. Or tweet."
Pictured above: (far left) President-elect Donald Trump; (top row, from left) Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Alphabet CEO Larry Page; (middle row, from left) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; (bottom row from left) Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.