Tim Cook on meeting with Trump: You have to engage

Last week’s meeting between Donald Trump and the top executives of tech’s biggest companies was the talk of Silicon Valley and beyond.

But wait, there’s more. Such as Apple CEO Tim Cook responding Monday to employees who asked why he chose to meet with the president-elect. For one thing, Trump had criticized Apple publicly during his campaign. And Trump’s rhetoric — and the records of the people he is putting in his cabinet — don’t exactly mesh with Cook’s reputation as a supporter of civil rights and social justice.

Cook told employees in the company’s internal information service that “personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” according to TechCrunch, which obtained a copy of the CEO’s response.

The CEO rattled off issues he identified as important to Apple, including privacy, security, human rights, climate change, job creation. He also mentioned tax reform and intellectual property.

“The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena,” Cook said. “So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree.”

Where engagement will be needed: Trump has said he wants to get Apple to “build their damn computers in this country.” He also criticized Apple’s stance in its fight with the FBI over encryption, when the company refused to help hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Another area that might be of concern to Cook and Apple is how the incoming administration deals with China. Almost immediately after the election, Chinese-run state media warned that Apple would probably be affected if Trump starts a trade war.

Cook ended his answer with the following: “We very much stand up for what we believe in. We think that’s a key part of what Apple is about. And we’ll continue to do so.”


Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, center, listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 14, 2016. (Evan Vucci/AP)


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  • georgesteele

    Apple is not entitled to be an American company, with all the attendant benefits, if it is not first American. Not supporting the needs of the federal government when there is a terrorist attack is vile. Try attracting the best talent in Mexico, or China, or Europe. You owe a debt – as people, and as a company – to the country for the freedoms we have built, at a cost of blood and treasure, out of whole cloth. Start acting like it. You are not sovereign – you’re just a business.

    • Matt Semenza

      Nicely worded!

  • sd

    George, you are going to be *terribly* disappointed for the next four years. Look at tRump’s Cabinet nominations: nothing but businessmen and (token) -women and some rich sycophants. Business *owns* government in the USA, from the influence business money has on our elected officials (including poorly-disguised PAC money), to the revolving door between Congress and lobbyist organizations, to business funding at our research universities (with their implied wish for specific results), to banks and investing companies which play with equity fire but are “too big to fail”. The real corporate tax rate in the US is not the fake-o 35% that tRump hawks loudly — it is far lower, with many companies, like American and United Airlines, GM, HP, and tRump’s own company not paying *any* income taxes last year. Really??

    In the meantime, Wall Street’s continual demands for market growth push American companies to sell overseas. Other countries encourage (or even require) local partnerships or manufacturing. The companies that do so are not seeking the protection of tariffs for their products. The willingness of other countries to subsidize business costs comes with no penalty in the US. So they go. They’d be foolish not to.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong — companies headquartered in the US *should* pay reasonable taxes to fund the benefits they enjoy (stable government, educated workforce, judicial systems, etc.) and to fully fund the costs of their doing business (e.g., Walmart should pay enough in employee benefits that every American taxpayer does not have to supplement their penury).

    But that’s not what this country has been about for some time. Hoping otherwise will only yield disappointment, certainly as long as a certain orange executive is in the Oval Office. Someday the worm will turn. Until then, though, the business of America is business.