What will happen when Donald Trump and Silicon Valley collide for the first time?
Posted December 14, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump is set to meet with some of Silicon Valley’s top tech leaders this week, hoping to bridge the divide between the tech industry and the White House, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are scheduled to be in attendance. Alphabet Inc.’s chairman Larry Page, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will also be there. CEOs from Intel, Oracle and Cisco, among other tech companies, could be there, too.
More executives could be invited in the coming days.
The agenda for the meeting remains unknown at this point.
Some wonder whether the tech companies and their leaders, who control many of today’s top products and businesses, will get along with the real estate mogul, according to Fortune.
While it may be a good idea for tech companies to cooperate with “the new sheriff in town,” the valley feels differently, according to Fortune. Some execs are concerned Trump may want to use their companies' data to further his immigration policy.
After all, Trump made headlines among tech moguls because he complained about companies such as Apple and IBM for sending jobs to foreign countries, according to WSJ. He said he wanted to make Apple build its computers in the United States.
For these reasons, some tech companies hope they will be left alone.
“The best-case scenario is being left alone,” said Paul Gallant, a Cowen & Co. analyst who focuses on tech policy, to the WSJ. “But they’re so central to people’s lives and the economy, that seems unlikely.”
Trump also worked closely with innovation thought leader Peter Thiel and former FTC commissioner Joshua Wright.
So Trump and the tech industry could get along more than some expect.
“We don’t know what kind of Donald Trump we’re going to see,” said Barry Lynn, a senior fellow who studies antitrust issues, to WSJ. “But if Thiel and Wright are any indication of where things are going, then Silicon Valley doesn’t have much to fear.”
But this may not be the case, according to The Atlantic. The tech summit is a sign Trump will want to be more involved with the country’s tech leaders, which President Barack Obama didn't do.
Trump’s desire for loyalty may make it difficult for tech industry leaders to ignore him. His summit may also be a way for him to show the tech industry what he expects from the companies involved and how he hopes culture will go, The Atlantic reported.
“When a king or a mogul holds court, he does so for different reasons than a politician or a CEO hosts a roundtable or takes a meeting,” according to The Atlantic. “Such a gathering might include actual collaboration, or at least the appearance of collaboration. But first and foremost, it affirms which audiences those overlords consider worthy of their time. It is thus no surprise that successful, established, infrastructural technology companies like Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM would make the cut, while more trivial distractions, like Slack and Twitter and Netflix, would not.”
But tech execs who want the meeting with Trump to go over smoothly may want to take advice from Quartz’s Oliver Staley, who put together a list of suggestions for CEOs who have to meet with Trump.
For one, chief executives may want to praise the president-elect, as he’s been known to enjoy receiving praise from industry leaders. Executives may also want to avoid badmouthing Trump or his policy ideas, since the president-elect could cause public relations problems for those companies by going to war with them, especially over Twitter.
Business leaders may also do well to make sure their companies make money. Trump, a businessman, will appreciate a positive bottom line.
“Sure, a few companies may get knocked around as Trump plays populist and throws red meat to the masses — drug makers have reason to be nervous — but by making sure they avoid Trump’s Sauron-like eye, most CEOs will be just fine,” Staley wrote.