Tech CEOs get slammed ahead of meeting with Trump

Most of the biggest names in tech who are scheduled to meet with Donald Trump Wednesday in New York are keeping quiet about why, or even whether they’re actually going. Their silence has prompted a lot of talk — and criticism.

Do the people who run Apple and Google and Amazon and Facebook — tech’s big four — have to come running when the president-elect calls? Tim Cook, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg are reportedly among the tech executives who have been invited to Trump Tower for what is expected to be a discussion about jobs.

Prominent tech journalist Kara Swisher writes in a column in Recode that the execs “should be ashamed of themselves for lining up like sheeple.” After all, she says, among other things Trump has attacked the tech industry in different ways.

“Realize you have untold money and power and influence and massive platforms to do what you think is right,” Swisher writes.

Chris Sacca of “Shark Tank” fame, a venture capitalist who has invested in Twitter and Uber, agrees.

“If Trump publicly commits to embrace science, stops threatening censorship of the internet, rejects fake news and denounces hate against our diverse employees, only then it would make sense for tech leaders to visit Trump Tower,” he told Swisher.

Pierre Omidyar, eBay founder, immigrant, philanthropist and a prolific tech voice against Trump, tweeted Monday night that “now, more than ever, tech leaders must stand up for human dignity, and examine their role in public discourse.”

But Dave Pell, tech investor and NextDraft newsletter writer, points out that we’re talking about Trump. The president-elect has helped wipe billions of dollars of market value from both Boeing and Lockheed by tweeting about them. And for all their power, Apple et al are publicly traded companies.

“They fear he will purposely take action to punish their companies if they don’t heed his wishes,” Pell wrote in a Medium post. “And that fear is wholly reasonable, and unlike most things associated with Trump, fact-based.”

It’s hard to imagine the execs will suddenly be more forthcoming after the big meeting. For example, what will Bezos, who once offered to send Trump to space on a rocket, and criticized Trump’s behavior as “not appropriate” for a presidential candidate, have to say? He and the others might hold their noses and say some diplomatic things afterward, if at all. But continued silence probably means continued criticism.

In other words, kiss (up?) and tell.

Meanwhile, some tech employees are pledging to resist one of the promises of the incoming administration. Dozens of engineers and workers from Google, IBM, Slack and others have pledged never to build a Muslim registry. Their pledge comes on the heels of a report that Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley’s biggest Trump supporter, is likely to benefit from such a registry. Thiel’s data-mining company, Palantir, has been helping the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency build a complex system that could help with the registry, according to the Intercept.


Photo: Outside Trump Tower in New York, where tech CEOs are scheduled to meet with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • RegularGuy55

    Trump extended an INVITATION, not a COMMAND. So no, they don’t have to ‘come running’. They can act like spoiled juveniles, fold their arms across their chest, and say ‘Nuh-uh’. At some point, maybe, just maybe, it will sink in to them that Trump is going to be the next President.

    I would have thought their duty to their shareholders would outweigh their personal snit(s), but maybe I overestimated their maturity.

  • sd

    RegularGuy is right in that Trump has issued an invitation, not a decree. I don’t see that the tech cabal mentioned has much to lose by getting together with the Chief Cheetoh. They can listen and then either accept or push back. Trump has already indicated he has no clue how powerful the tech industry is. It’s not like you can trust a damn thing that comes out of his mouth. And it’s ironic to think that the guy who wants to gut pretty much every government program going is going to be so personally involved in telling U.S. tech what they should be doing. So who knows what will happen at the meeting? Might as well go.

  • Jefe

    RegularGuy is right. While the tech titans buttered up to a tech neophyte who cluelessly, or more intentionally, to line her purse sited an intended to be secure server in a bathroom, the next President issued an invitation to visit.

    The tech chiefs need to learn the bubble that is Silicon Valley is not a true representation of the United States and the rest of the world.

  • Jack Kuhns

    Please do not undermine your otherwise solid case by parroting the specious claim that Boeing lost any value, stock or otherwise.
    Stock dropped momentarily than rose 3%.

  • EllaFino

    They should meet with him and tell him they are not going to play ball with any anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-science bullcrap.

  • Daniel S

    Things are so political that now we have horrible accusations against anyone who disagrees, instead of just saying what you are in favor of, such as importing cheaper labor from India and China as H1-Bs, they say “reject hatred of diversity”.
    What a slimeball.

  • Webbie39

    For them to boycott a meeting with Trump would be almost as stupid as our 50 year boycott of Cuba. They need to talk to him. Every scientist who gets the chance should talk to him. Every sensible person who gets the chance should talk to him.

  • Talon

    Wonder how much or their sales are government generated??? hmmmm???

  • Choose!

    I keep trying to figure out what “real News is as opposed to fake news? Msnbc, Cnn and so forth are all controlled by Jews, so that is a lie,,,,,

  • potofan96

    Kara Swisher needs to grow up and start acting like an adult. This country didn’t get to where we are without working together and for her to actively suggest that those that are currently in leadership positions should rebel is borderline treason. You don’t work against your country. And Recode whoever they are should reevaluate who they have on staff.