Anyone expecting harsh words between President-elect Donald Trump and America’s Silicon Valley CEOs, given the fact many of them supported Hillary Clinton in the recent election, was in for surprise Wednesday when the two forces met.
Trump told the technology elites they were “a truly amazing group of people” and added, “I’m here to help you folks do well.”
The Tip Top Of Tech
The group included Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZNC) Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLAC), Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGC) Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, Tim Cook from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPLC), Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FBC) Sheryl Sandberg, Safra Catz, of Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCLC) and Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFTB), to name just a few.
Candidate Trump said Amazon was headed for antitrust problems and that Apple needed to reshore jobs or face heavy tariffs. With President-elect Trump topics turned to vocational education, trade with China and immigration. And even immigration was not contentious. At least not yet.
This is not to say Trump’s meeting with tech superstars was without problems. Ahead of the meeting more than 500 engineers and tech workers signed and issued a statement saying they would refuse to create databases that could be used by the government to target people based on their race, religion or national origin.
Among the signatories, employees at Google, Apple and Microsoft. This was in response to Trump’s often stated intent to create of Muslim registry in order to track people who might be potential terrorists.
Immigration As An Issue
One issue that concerns Silicon Valley is its desire for immigration reform. Many feel that issue would go to the bottom of the list following Trump’s win. These people expected help from Hillary Clinton in their push to allow more workers into the country viz a viz H-1B visas. These visas allow companies to hire highly skilled workers. Trump’s position on H-1B has been inconsistent at best.
Following the meeting, Derrick Seaver, executive vice president of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce said that when it comes to immigration reform, “there might be a little bit more playing defense, going forward, than playing offense.”
Tackling Tax Reform
Another area of common concern between Silicon Valley and the Trump administration is the desire for tax reform. Tech companies have said they want to return foreign profits to the U.S. albeit at lower corporate tax rates. Trump has said he was in favor and made lowering corporate taxes a hallmark of his campaign.
Additional topics, according to multiple sources, included the government's use of technology and ways to improve it. The president-elect promised additional meetings in the future sources said.
One sign things went well after all came from a statement released by Amazon’s Bezos, a frequent target of Trump. Said Bezos, "I shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech—agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing—everywhere."