According to emerging reports, President-elect Donald Trump has put out the call to the leaders of America’s largest tech firms that the time has come for a sit-down. This comes after the vast majority of the biggest names in Silicon Valley spent much of the last six months actively denouncing the prospect of his election.
The situation may be a little tense. If it happens at all.
We’ll all find out one way or the other next Wednesday afternoon. That is the proposed timing for a New York round-table discussion, according to a transition official who has seen the invitations. The agenda remains undisclosed.
What does seem to be reported fact is the involvement of Peter Thiel — PayPal co-founder, billionaire investor, Facebook board member and Silicon Valley outlier in that he has been a strong backer of Trump’s since early on. The round-table invitations come care of Mr. Thiel; Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law; and Reince Priebus, the incoming chief of staff according to New York Times reporting.
As for who the attendees will be — so far Safra Catz of the software maker Oracle confirmed her participation in next week’s meeting with Mr. Trump. So did Chuck Robbins of Cisco Systems, the networking gear maker.
Representatives from Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Apple declined to comment. A Trump spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Mr. Thiel has noted that the purpose of the meeting will be spurring ideas for how the dominance of the American tech sector can export the benefits it has generated to areas outside of zip codes in Northern California and New York. Trump has focused in on Apple in particular, noting that he would like to see the firm build “a big plant” in the United States — or even better, “many big plants.”
The invitations have also drawn some derision. Chris Sacca, a prominent venture investor, said there was only one path for those attending next week’s meeting: defiance.
“If an attendee wants to maintain their integrity and preserve their company’s ability to recruit the best talent, then there is only one purpose for a trip to Trump Tower: to deliver the message that our industry will not be complicit in the systematic disgrace of our democratic institutions, the establishment of an authoritarian kleptocracy nor the oppression of citizens, including the minority of Americans who elected him,” Mr. Sacca said.
However, others predict that perhaps common ground can be found between Trump and the Silicon Valley leaders — since they do have some basic similarities.
“Trump embodies the harsher aspects of Silicon Valley — a brash and arrogant disrupter, convinced that the world is all wrong as it is and only he can change it for the better,” said Shiva Ramesh, a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Plus, Valley executives might well relate to some of Trump’s bigger, if less well sketched, out plans.
“Sounds like the pitch of some start-ups: ‘It is all there in my head and in a one-page plan, it will all work out, I can do it, trust me,’” Mr. Ramesh said.