Trump meets with tech titans who op­posed him

Finds com­mon ground for al­liances

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

A pow­wow with Sil­i­con Val­ley titans Wed­nes­day was the lat­est ma­neu­ver by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to heal wounds in­flicted dur­ing the rough-and­tum­ble cam­paign on play­ers he likely will need on his side once he takes of­fice.

The meet­ing at Trump Tower with high-tech busi­ness lead­ers who backed Hil­lary Clin­ton and ac­tively op­posed the Repub­li­can can­di­date fol­lowed Mr. Trump’s pat­tern of turn­ing an­tag­o­nists into al­lies. He also has re­paired re­la­tion­ships with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney.

“I’m here to help you folks do well. And you’re do­ing well right now, and I’m very hon­ored by the bounce. They’re all talk­ing about the bounce,” Mr. Trump said at the start of the meet­ing, re­fer­ring to the stock mar­ket surge since the elec­tion. Wall Street’s record highs in re­cent weeks have sent the val­ues of the com­pa­nies rep­re­sented at the con­fer­ence ta­ble sky­rock­et­ing.

“So, right now, every­body in this room has to like me — at least a lit­tle bit,” Mr. Trump said. “But we’re go­ing to try and have that bounce con­tinue. And per­haps even more im­por­tantly, we want you to keep go­ing with the in­cred­i­ble in­no­va­tion. There’s no­body like you in the world — in the world. There’s no­body like the peo­ple in this room. And any­thing we can do to help this go along, and we’re go­ing to be there for you.”

The ban­ter was a 180-de­gree turn from some of the heated rhetoric on the cam­paign trail.

The “tech round­table” in­cluded Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos, who owns The Wash­ing­ton Post, a news­pa­per Mr. Trump reg­u­larly tan­gled with dur­ing the cam­paign, and Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook, whose com­pany Mr. Trump de­nounced for not help­ing the FBI un­lock an iPhone used in a ter­ror­ist at­tack on an of­fice Christ­mas party last year in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia.

Mr. Trump also pressed Ap­ple to make more iPhones in the U.S., and he wor­ried ex­ec­u­tives across Sil­i­con Val­ley with his talk about crack­ing down on visas for for­eign work­ers, upon which many high-tech firms rely.

“I see it as a smart move to bury the hatchet as early as pos­si­ble. It is a very nec­es­sary move,” said Repub­li­can Party po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Ford O’Con­nell. “You’ve got to bring them to the ta­ble be­cause if you are go­ing to boost eco­nomic growth and put peo­ple back to work, the tech in­dus­try is one of the places where you’re go­ing to do it.”

On Tues­day, Mi­crosoft co-founder Bill Gates com­pared the pres­i­dent-elect to John F. Kennedy. Mr. Gates, who had spo­ken re­cently with Mr. Trump by phone, said the in­com­ing pres­i­dent asked about fos­ter­ing in­no­va­tion.

“In the same way Pres­i­dent Kennedy talked about the space mis­sion and got the coun­try be­hind that,” Mr. Gates told CNBC, “I think whether it’s ed­u­ca­tion or stop­ping epi­demics … there can be a very up­beat mes­sage that [Mr. Trump’s] ad­min­is­tra­tion is go­ing to or­ga­nize things, get rid of reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers and have Amer­i­can lead­er­ship through in­no­va­tion.”

On Wed­nes­day, the other tech titans also seemed op­ti­mistic.

Be­fore re­porters were ush­ered out of the room, Mr. Be­zos de­clared that he was “su­per-ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties for in­no­va­tion with this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Many were hes­i­tant about at­tend­ing, but bil­lion­aire in­vestor and Face­book board mem­ber Peter Thiel, an early Trump sup­porter who has be­come the pres­i­dent-elect’s li­ai­son to Sil­i­con Val­ley, man­aged to coax a high-tech who’s who into the room.

Seated around the ta­ble were Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Mi­crosoft CEO Satya Nadella, Or­a­cle CEO Safra A. Catz, Intel CEO Brian M. Krzanich, Cisco Sys­tems CEO Chuck Rob­bins, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Face­book CEO Sh­eryl Sand­berg, Google founder and CEO Larry Page, Google Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Eric Sch­midt and Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of the soft­ware firm Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies.

Both sides had some­thing to gain from mak­ing amends.

Mr. Trump wants a flour­ish­ing high­tech sec­tor and the jobs that would cre­ate.

Sil­i­con Val­ley wants the pres­i­dent’s ear on is­sues where there al­ready is fric­tion, in­clud­ing im­mi­gra­tion, trade and net neu­tral­ity — the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “rules of the road” for the in­ter­net that bar ser­vice providers from pri­or­i­tiz­ing web con­tent.

Mr. Trump also has been smooth­ing over re­la­tion­ships with the Repub­li­can Party es­tab­lish­ment.

He has made amends with Mr. Ryan, who net­tled him dur­ing the cam­paign by re­sist­ing an en­dorse­ment as the party’s nom­i­nee and then re­fus­ing to stump with him in the fi­nal days of the race.

“I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate him,” Mr. Trump said when ac­com­pa­nied by Mr. Ryan at a thank-you rally in his home state of Wis­con­sin. “He’s like a fine wine. Ev­ery day, I ap­pre­ci­ate his ge­nius more and more.”

But Mr. Trump also added a warn­ing: “If he ever goes against me, I’m not go­ing to say that.”

Mr. Trump also forged a friendly bond with Mr. Rom­ney, one of his most out­spo­ken de­trac­tors in the Repub­li­can Party es­tab­lish­ment dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race.

Al­though Mr. Trump did not se­lect Mr. Rom­ney for sec­re­tary of state, a post for which the former Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor was a top con­tender, the pub­lic in­ter­view process as­sured that Mr. Rom­ney would not be left out.

Fur­ther ce­ment­ing their re­la­tion­ship, Mr. Trump tapped Mr. Rom­ney’s niece, Michi­gan Repub­li­can Party Chair­woman Ronna Rom­ney McDaniel, to chair the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

Ms. McDaniel, a GOP star in her own right, is cred­ited with help­ing en­gi­neer Mr. Trump’s his­toric win in the state.

“Things do change,” said Mr. O’Con­nell. “Peo­ple who were en­e­mies be­come friends or peo­ple you need to work with.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

IN­NO­VA­TORS: Don­ald Trump met Wed­nes­day with PayPal founder Peter Thiel (cen­ter), Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook and other lead­ers in the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Among the high-tech busi­ness lead­ers meet­ing the pres­i­dent-elect at Trump Tower in New York on Wed­nes­day were: (from left) Ama­zon founder Jeff Be­zos, Al­pha­bet CEO Larry Page and Face­book Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Sh­eryl Sand­berg. Both sides want a high-tech sec­tor that will flour­ish, and Sil­i­con Val­ley lead­ers want an ear in the White House.

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