The bitter war between Donald Trump and the tech giants he regularly denigrated on the 2016 campaign trail appeared to reach something of a temporary cease-fire on Wednesday.
Speaking to leading executives from companies like Apple, Facebook and Amazon at Trump Tower, the president-elect welcomed the tech industry with words of encouragement.
“There’s nobody like you in the world,” Trump said at the outset of a meeting. “There’s nobody like the people in this room. And anything we can do to help this go along, we’re going to be there for you.”
The early flicker of cooperation is a dramatic departure from the 2016 campaign, when Trump called for a boycott of Apple because of its stance on privacy, pitted his aides against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a spat over immigration reform and accused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of using his ownership of The Washington Post as a tax-dodging “scam.” The e-commerce giant, Trump said at one point, would have “such problems” if he were elected.
“The election is the election; the campaign is the campaign,” said Michael Beckerman, the president of the Internet Association, in an interview before the meeting began. “Now we’re talking about governing the country, and it’s a different conversation and the tone is very different.”
Trump’s rhetoric later led Apple to withdraw from supporting the Republican convention that nominated Trump. Many tech leaders, like LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, later criticized Trump as a “disaster” for innovation. Bezos questioned Trump’s fitness for office in multiple public settings, while Musk said before Election Day that Trump “is probably not the right guy” for the White House.
Months later, Trump and the tech industry have no choice but to reset that relationship. The president-elect, who has promised to create jobs, may need to depend on one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy – and with his summit Wednesday, he tapped Musk as well as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick as two new members of his outside corporate advisory council.
Silicon Valley, meanwhile, relies on Washington’s blessings to turn their most audacious ideas — from self-driving cars to delivery drones — into reality. Trump’s early pledges on tax and infrastructure reform, meanwhile, long have been top-of-mind for tech companies like Apple, Alphabet and IBM.
With so much on the line, Silicon Valley seemed inclined to bury the hatchet — at least for now.