In less than a day, executives representing some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies (including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) will assemble at Trump Tower at the US president-elect’s request. Until now, the exact purpose of the gathering has been unclear, but a new Forbes report suggests Trump’s primary motive is just as petty and vindictive as we thought.
According to the report, a source close to the campaign said the upcoming meeting is the president-elect’s way of “asserting dominance” over the industry. In the past, Trump has repeatedly feuded with Silicon Valley, calling for a boycott of Apple products and accusing Google and Facebook of “burying” negative stories about Hillary Clinton during his campaign. Now, it seems, it’s payback time.
In a similar meeting at Trump Tower last month, media executives reportedly arrived expecting to work out practical details with the president-elect and ended up facing “a fucking firing squad”.
“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said, ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,'” a source told The New York Post. “The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down.”
The reported focus of this week’s tech summit also seems designed to embarrass those in attendance. According to Forbes, Trump plans to talk to the executives about “bringing jobs to America”, a topic that sounds fairly neutral until considered in conjunction with previous comments on Silicon Valley and labour by him and his inner circle.
During his campaign, Trump promised to force Apple to manufacture its products domestically if elected, saying, “We’re going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.” And while discussing student visas during an interview with Trump last year, future chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested that tech’s foreign-born executives were harming American society even as they helped its economy.
“When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…” said Bannon, trailing off. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
While it’s impossible to say exactly how the summit will go down, it’s certainly shaping up to be an event to remember.