The gathering will take place Wednesday in New York
Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg are among the small group of top tech leaders who will attend a summit with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation.
Invites for the gathering went out last week, as has been previously reported, but only to a small group of largely Silicon Valley execs whose names were not announced.
But — as Recode can now report, because we still do that quaint journalism thing — is a very heady group of less than a dozen, comprising most of the key players in the sector.
Those who will be attending (although most of the companies declined to comment to Recode) along with Page, Cook and Sandberg, include: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Intel CEO Brian Krzanich; and Oracle CEO Safra Catz.
“I plan to tell the President-elect that we are with him and will help in any way we can,” said Catz in a statement. “If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology industry will be stronger and more competitive than ever.”
It’s not clear who the other attendees are, because many more invites went out late this week. But sources said Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos was invited. He is likely to attend, said sources.
Bezos’ presence would be awkward, obviously, given how aggressive his Washington Post has been in its reporting on Trump and how many times the reality show star turned President-elect has attacked Amazon on a number of issues.
Trump has done the same to Apple, dinging it on taxes and the making of its popular products outside of the U.S. He even called for a boycott of Apple after it refused to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The invite for the Wednesday event came from Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, as well as his son-in-law and chief whisperer Jared Kushner and, of course, his biggest tech supporter, investor Peter Thiel.
Those close to the process said that Thiel — who is on the Facebook board with Sandberg — and others helping Trump reach out to the tech community had a hard time convincing them to attend, largely due to his persistent public hostility to one of the U.S. economy’s few bright and innovative arenas.
In addition, most of Silicon Valley’s leadership backed Trump rival and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and were even more supportive of outgoing President Barack Obama.
Tech companies also stand on the other side of a myriad of key issues from Trump, including immigration reform, encryption and a range of social concerns. But those involved said that tech leaders had little choice in accepting the invitation, even if they wanted to decline, opting to engage now even if they later oppose Trump.
“Look, this is obviously a circus,” said one person close to the situation. “Everyone in tech just wants to be invisible right now when it comes to this administration, but has to participate since we have done it before.”
The list of those not invited or invited but not going — the equivalent of the “I’m washing my hair” excuse, I guess — is even more interesting, including those from pretty much all of its most innovative companies. Some just got invites late this week, by the way, which shows how rolling the invites might have been.
Thus, no on Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (invited, but out of country), no on Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (invited and a Thiel investment, but out of country), no on Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, no on Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, no on Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and no on Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.
In other words, most of the cool kids are staying West. “I think my invite got lost in the mail,” joked one. “Of course, this kind of thing will never happen again as of January.”
And prominent venture capitalists and entrepreneurs like Marc Andreessen, Max Levchin and Reid Hoffman are also not attending. Let that sink in — both Levchin and Hoffman worked with Thiel at PayPal and are close to him. Hoffman has been a big critic of Trump and continues to be.
Sources also said Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, another prominent and vocal Trump detractor, is also not going. During the campaign, the Republican stalwart — one of the few in Silicon Valley — called Trump a “dishonest demagogue” and compared him to Hilter and Mussolini. Let’s be fair, that’s pretty hard to walk back.
Another prominent techie, Jack Dorsey, CEO and inventor of Twitter, Trump’s favorite method of digital communication, told me last week he was not invited and later said he was not sure if he was. I have asked for clarification, but maybe Trump will tweet it out soon enough.
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Author: Kara Swisher
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