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Donald Trump Pep-Talks Tech Titans at CEO Summit

Variety logo Variety 12/15/2016 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Donald Trump, at a meeting Wednesday afternoon high above Manhattan in Trump Tower, hosted more than a dozen top execs of U.S. technology firms — where the president-elect effusively praised them and sounded out ways to create American jobs.

“This is a truly amazing group of people,” Trump said at the gathering, according to a New York Times report. “There’s nobody like you in the world. In the world! There’s nobody like the people in this room.” He added that if there’s anything his administration can do to help the industry, “we’re going to be there for you.”

Tech leaders who attended the 90-minute meeting included Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Oracle’s Safra Catz, Palantir’s Alex Karp, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty.

Perhaps the most notable development to come out of the confab was Trump’s snub of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The billionaire — an incessant tweeter — did not invite Dorsey reportedly because Twitter had turned down the Trump campaign’s efforts to buy an emoji for “#CrookedHillary.”

Trump’s overall upbeat and convivial reception of Silicon Valley’s elite stood in contrast to his previous attacks on tech companies. During the 2016 campaign, he had urged Apple to move its manufacturing to the U.S. and called for a boycott of its products after Apple refused to assist law enforcement unlock an iPhone as part of a terrorism investigation. Trump also labeled Amazon a monopoly that is dodging taxes, and had accused Facebook, Twitter and Google of somehow suppressing negative news about Hillary Clinton.

The tech CEO photo-op summit was organized by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, now a Trump adviser, who was the most prominent technology leader to back the candidate. Others joining the summit included VP-elect Mike Pence; Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, his children Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump; chief of staff Reince Priebus; and senior adviser Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News.

According to Trump’s transition team, topics at the meeting included how to create more jobs for American workers; eliminating barriers preventing American companies from doing business in other countries; America’s competitive trade dynamic and market access with China; and repatriation of American profits “kept overseas by prohibitive tax rates.”

The summit also covered protection of intellectual-property rights, improving the U.S.’s data security, and the need for greater vocational education opportunities.

According to Trump’s transition team, the president-elect suggested reconvening the tech leaders again in the future, perhaps as frequently as every quarter.

Pictured above (l. to r.): Donald Trump, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook

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