Trump and a Bunch of Silicon Valley Moguls Had an Awkward Little Talk Today

The president-elect may be trying to mend his relationship with tech elite.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the meetingEvan Vucci/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Executives from Facebook, Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, and other Silicon Valley tech giants had a much-anticipated meeting with Donald Trump this afternoon, despite the rocky relationship between tech groups and Trump during his campaign. According to the Wall Street Journal, the president-elect struck a “conciliatory tone,” leading off the meeting with the reassurance that he wants “to help you folks do well.”

“We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation,” he continued. “Anything we can do to help this go along we’re going to be there for you.”

That tone is in sharp contrast to the more critical, sometimes hostile words exchanged between Silicon Valley leaders and Trump in the months leading up to his election. Many tech moguls repeatedly lambasted Trump, characterizing his views on immigration and trade as “a disaster for innovation,” while Trump castigated tech executives for, among other things, sending jobs overseas. In one notable instance, Trump also accused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for buying the Washington Posttemporarily blacklisted by Trump for its unfavorable coverage of his campaign—to keep taxes low and avoid antitrust scrutiny.

The only tech billionaire at the meeting who supported Trump during his campaign was Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur and venture capitalist who founded PayPal. Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July and is now on Trump’s transition team, helped decide who from Silicon Valley should be invited to the meeting. One striking omission from the guest list was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who was reportedly excluded as retribution over a failed “crooked Hillary” emoji hashtag.

According to sources close to the meeting, the official agenda was focused on jobs and the role of technology in government. It’s unclear whether other issues important to the attendees were topics of discussion at the meeting. Climate change, for example, which Trump has repeatedly denied, is a priority for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who acquired the solar panel company SolarCity only a week before the election. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, has forcefully advocated better women’s workplace rights.

On Tuesday, Bill Gates paid a visit to the president-elect only a day after launching a $1 billion fund to fight climate change with clean energy innovation. “We had a good conversation about innovation, how it can help in health, education, impact of foreign aid, and energy,” Gates said after the meeting.

Many in Silicon Valley remain wary of how a Trump presidency will change the industry following its exponential growth during the Obama administration. But Trump is doing his best to be liked. “I’m very honored by the bounce,” he said during the meeting Wednesday in reference to the recent uptick in stocks. “Everybody’s talking about the bounce, so everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate