Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Tech titans are meeting with Trump today
Some of the most powerful and high-profile leaders from the technology industry are scheduled to meet with US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The meeting has the potential to be a tense affair: Silicon Valley was overwhelmingly opposed to the Republican president-elect before the election, and during the campaign he repeatedly railed against the business practices of the industry. The discussion is likely to centre on jobs and immigration — issues on which the tech community and Trump seem likely to clash.
The meeting, due to be held at Trump Tower in New York, has a star-studded guest list: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt from Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Tesla's Elon Musk, IBM's Ginni Rometty, and Brian Krzanich from Intel are among the attendees, according to a roundup from The New York Times.
(Sidenote: Jack Dorsey, the cofounder and CEO of Twitter — a social network beloved by Trump — was not invited.)
A key issue on the table will be jobs and immigration. Silicon Valley is heavily reliant on immigrant workers, hiring engineers and other employees from all over the world — but Trump ran his campaign in opposition to immigration, promising to build a wall along America's southern border and to halt Muslim immigration altogether.
Trump has been critical of the H-1B skilled-worker visa program, which the tech industry uses heavily, saying in a statement in March: "I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions." Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has expressed concern that there are too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley.
The attendees will be hoping that Trump is prepared to be more pragmatic about the issue than his rhetoric on the campaign trail might have suggested.
Several of the attendees at the meeting have previously been the subject of Trump's ire. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly went after Bezos, the Amazon CEO who also owns The Washington Post, which aggressively reported on Trump during the campaign.
Trump said Bezos had "a huge antitrust problem because he's controlling so much," while Bezos countered that Trump's strategy of targeting the news media"erodes democracy." (Bezos later promised to keep an "open mind" after Trump's election.)
Trump attacked Apple over its refusal to help unlock an iPhonefor the FBI in February, asking, "Who do they think they are?" and calling for a boycott. He has also targeted the company for building its iPhones in China.
One of Trump's few backers in Silicon Valley is Peter Thiel, the Paypal cofounder turned billionaire investor and Facebook board member. Thiel supported Trump's candidacy, speaking at the Republican National Convention in the summer. He now sits on the president-elect's transition team, and he helped organise Wednesday's meeting.
In November, Trump sat down for a similar off-the-record meeting with media executives. It was reportedly an awkward affair, with Trump attacking the assembled execs over their coverage of his campaign and their failure to anticipate his victory.
Business Insider will bring you more on Wednesday's meeting as it happens.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.