Donald Trump held a star-studded meeting with bosses from America’s biggest technology companies on Wednesday in a charm offensive against an industry that vocally opposed his election, but the meeting appeared more awkward than productive.
Photos from the event showed many of the attendees from the tech industry grimacing or looking downright despairing while Trump, at the centre of the table, led the meeting.
The attendees had a combined wealth of some $143.5bn (£115bn), according to various estimates of the individuals, making it one of the most valuable meetings in history.
Trump, with a net worth estimated at $3.7bn, was only the fifth richest person in the room, with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ($66.4bn), Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) Larry Page ($39.5bn), Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk ($11.5bn), and Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt ($11.5bn) in attendance.
The bosses of Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Cisco, Intel and Palantir were also present, as well as Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.
Twitter was reportedly not invited to the event, despite Donald Trump’s love of the service, because it had refused to create an anti-Hillary Clinton emoji.
As well as all the tech bosses, there was a large contingent of Trump’s transition team and family members, including his sons Eric and Donald Jr, daughter Ivanka and son in law Jared Kushner, who is also an advisor to the president elect.
The group reportedly talked about education, immigration and trade. In his opening remarks Trump said: “I’m here to help you folks do well. And you’re doing very well right now and I’m honoured by the [stock market] bounce.
“We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There’s nobody like you in the world. In the world.”
The meeting had been brokered by Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech investor who co-founded PayPal and who supported Trump. The two had a somewhat awkward handshake during Trump’s opening remarks, however.
Some of Trump’s most vocal criticisms during the election were of Apple, saying that: “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” and of Bezos, who owns the Washington Post as well as running Amazon.
He said that Amazon will “have such problems” in February. The meeting on Wednesday was somewhat more congenial, with Bezos saying he was “super excited about the possibilities this could be the innovation administration”.