The meeting between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the nation’s tech elite was hyped as something out of “The Apprentice”: The new boss tells his minions to shape up. It turned out to be a charm offensive, a kind of “Dancing With the Silicon Valley Stars.”
“This is a truly amazing group of people,” the president-elect said on Wednesday in a 25th-floor conference room at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The gathering included Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Elon Musk of Tesla; Timothy D. Cook of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook; Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, Google’s parent company; and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, among others. “I’m here to help you folks do well,” Mr. Trump said.
He kept going in that vein. “There’s nobody like you in the world,” he enthused. “In the world! There’s nobody like the people in this room.” Anything that the government “can do to help this go along,” he made clear, “we’re going to be there for you.”
And that was just in the first few minutes. The candidate who warned during the presidential campaign that Amazon was going to have antitrust problems, that Apple needed to build its iPhones in the United States instead of China, was nowhere to be seen.
Even after the press was ushered out, the meeting continued its genial way. Among the topics discussed, according to several corporate executives and a transition official briefed on the meeting, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, were vocational education and the need for more of it, the promise and peril of trade with China and immigration (Mr. Trump wants “smart and talented people here”). The president-elect also asked the executives to see if they could not apply data analysis technology to detect and help get rid of government waste.