It’s being called the “Tech Summit heard ’round the world.” United States President-elect Donald Trump gathered the titans of the tech industry at Trump Tower in New York this week – and we have a summary of the day’s events.
The summit marks the first time Trump is meeting with any collective group from a single industry. Considering Trump has been at odds with the tech industry throughout most of his campaign, this is being seen by some observers as the first step to reconciling with Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner are thought to have been instrumental in putting the meeting together.
While the topics such as trade, corporate tax reform, and immigration may have arisen at the meeting, the focus of the summit was jobs.
Trump and his advisers met with 13 of the industries most prominent executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, CEO of Google‘s parent company Alphabet, Larry Page, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been personally criticized by Trump, was in attendance as well.
Where everyone sat at Trump's tech meeting today. pic.twitter.com/1WMMRjF1UG
— Rolfe Winkler (@RolfeWinkler) December 14, 2016
Notably absent from the summit are Fortune 500 tech companies such as HPE, HP Inc., Yahoo, Dell EMC, and most glaringly, Twitter.
According to Reuters, the official word out of the Trump camp is that Twitter “wasn’t invited because they aren’t big enough.” Twitter’s market cap of $13.85 billion would make it the smallest company in attendance. However, multiple media sources report that the decision to keep Twitter out could stem from Trump’s displeasure with the company, who had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign in October that would show an emoji next to the hashtag ‘#CrookedHillary’.
When it comes to the actual summit itself, most of these tech companies, as well as Trump, have kept silent. Fortunately, the press was allowed in the room for the first four minutes and were able to capture the opening remarks. We’ve pulled some of the highlights from the opening remarks, but you can view the full transcript published by The Wall Street Journal here.
- Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Inc,: “Tim Cook, very good to be here. And I look forward to talking to the president-elect about the things that we can do to help you achieve some things you want.”
- Safra Catz, Co-CEO, Oracle Corp.: “I’m Safra Catz, I’m CEO of Oracle. I’m actually privileged and honored to even be here, and we are looking forward to helping you, and your administration.”
- Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla Motors Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Inc.: “Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, building rockets and cars and solar stuff in the U.S. I’m really excited about expanding our manufacturing footprint in the U.S.”
- Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco Corp.: “Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco. Likewise, everything has been said, we’re happy to be here and happy to help and happy to work with you.”
- Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com Inc.: “Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com. I’m super excited about the possibility that this could be the innovation administration.”
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook Inc.: “Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook. Excited to talk about jobs.”
The on-the-record discussion ended with Trump’s remarks. Here are the highlights:
- “So I want to add that I’m here to help you folks do well. And you’re doing well right now and I’m honored by the bounce. They’re all talking about the bounce, so right now everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit, but we’re going to try and have that bounce continue and perhaps even more importantly we want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There’s nobody like you in the world. In the world, there’s nobody like the people in this room.”
- “And anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you and you’ll call my people, you’ll call me, it doesn’t make any difference, we have no formal chain of command around here.”
- “And we’re going to do fair trade deals. We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders because of a lot of restrictions, a lot of problems that I think you’ll see.”
Besides a statement from Bezos who left the meeting feeling that it was “very productive”, no one on either side of the discussion has gone on the record. However, Recode was able to publish a broad recap of the events based on numerous sources “close to the executives involved.” Obviously, those sources remain unnamed.
A big takeaway was the commotion around Trump involving his three oldest children – an action those executives took to be “inappropriate on a number of levels,” saying “they took up three seats that should have gone to key tech people.”
Overall, Bezos statement that the meeting was very productive seems to be accurate. Nadella spoke about the importance of immigration and how the government can help in areas like H-1B visas, something Trump responded favorably to. Both Cook and Sandberg spoke strongly about science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) education, a topic that both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spoken heavily about, but one that Trump hasn’t publicly formed an opinion on.
Unlike the meeting Trump held with members of the media, the fallout here has been quiet, with one source saying that “the meeting was weird, but not as awkward as it could have been,” and another reporting that Trump was in fact “reasonable and fair the whole time.”
After the initial meeting, Trump did meet one-on-one with both Cook and Musk, about what is anyone’s guess, although Musk, alongside Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, has been named to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Musk, who has gone on record saying that Trump was “not the right guy” for the Oval office, appears to have changed his tune. The three join a growing list of executives in the Forum, including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and IBM CEO Ginny Rometty.
Today's tech summit included productive discussions about job creation & economic growth. We're on track to make America first again pic.twitter.com/tFU3ObcB0i
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) December 14, 2016
On Twitter, the Trump camp was ecstatic about the event, with reports indicating that Trump suggested the group reconvene for future summits like this one as often as once a quarter.
Silicon Valley, on the other hand, may not be as high on that possibility – at least in a public manner, especially with the sentiment that the “[executives] definitely gave up a little stature now for possible benefit later” following those who attended.