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Trump meets tech industry leaders, with one notable absence

donald trump
Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Tech industry executives from companies including Apple, Facebook, and Amazon descended upon Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. But there was one notable web giant that didn’t receive an RSVP: namely, Twitter.

The highly publicized gathering was viewed by some as an olive branch from Trump to the firms he’d targeted during the election season. Among those in attendance were SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Eric Schmidt (executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet), Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and PayPal founder (and member of Trump’s transition team) Peter Thiel.

The President-elect began the meeting with words of praise for the group: “There’s nobody like the people in this room,” said Trump, who was joined at the meeting by his sons Eric and Donald Jr., his daughter Ivanka, and son-in law Jared Kushner. He continued: “And anything we can do to help this go along, we’re going to be there for you.”

The comments mark a shift from the rhetoric used by Trump during his election campaign, when he’d made allegations of tax-dodging against Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post, and threatened to boycott Apple for outsourcing jobs. Now, with the election now firmly behind him, Trump is free to take on the pragmatic task of discussing governance issues.

To that extent, the two-hour meeting saw the president-elect tackle a number of topics with his attendees, including creating jobs in the United States, building infrastructure, immigration, and cybersecurity, among others.

Trump also touched upon two of his policies that have been embraced by Silicon Valley: tax and regulatory reform. Trump has previously pledged to drop the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent. Additionally, his anti-regulatory policies could prove a boon for startups.

“We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders,” said Trump.

Earlier in the day, when the members of the group had entered Trump towers, they’d refrained from talking with the press. A number of those seated around the same table as Trump had previously returned his barbs, with Musk claiming before the election that “he is probably not the right guy” for the White House, and Sandberg’s boss Mark Zuckerberg chiding his remarks on immigration.

Any skepticism the executives may have had going into the meeting was likely assuaged by Trump’s reassuring words regarding his commitment to building partnerships. With Vice President-elect Mike Pence seated alongside him, Trump told the group his administration “is going to be here for you. You’ll call my people, you’ll call me. We have no formal chain of command around here.”

It was later announced that Musk and and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick were being added to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Musk is also set to hold a separate meeting with Trump, as is Apple boss Cook.

Trump’s selection for White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, described the tech summit as “productive,” in a tweet.

Today's tech summit included productive discussions about job creation & economic growth. We're on track to make America first again

— Reince Priebus (@Reince) December 14, 2016

Notably absent from the event was the company behind the service Priebus employed to communicate his message: Twitter. Arguably Trump’s favorite social platform, Twitter was reportedly “bounced” from the meeting due to its rejection of a Trump campaign emoji entitled #CrookedHillary, according to an anonymous source that spoke to Politico. The incident had previously been detailed in a Medium post by Gary Coby, Trump’s director of digital advertising and fundraising.

In the article, Coby claimed that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey directly intervened to block the emoji — which was part of a larger $5 million sponsorship deal — that depicted an animated Clinton with small bags of money. Republican National Committee spokesman (and fellow Trump advisor) Sean Spicer allegedly made the call to block Dorsey and other Twitter execs from attending the meeting. The company has yet to comment on the issue.

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