US President-elect Donald Trump has invited Silicon Valley’s top brass to the Trump Tower in New York today for a special tech summit which is taking place right now – jobs and regulations are expected to be on the agenda. The meeting will be crowded with over a dozen tech executives, but apparently two of them will get a separate private meeting with the next President of the US: Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The news comes just as it was announced by Trump’s transition team that Musk will be on the President’s Strategic and Policy Team, a group of high-profile businessmen that “will be called upon to meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda.”
A meeting between Trump, Musk and Cook should be quite interesting and possibly even awkward. Musk has been careful not to comment extensively on the election, but he did say that he believes “a bit strongly that [Trump] is probably not the right guy” to be president.
As for Cook, he financially supported Hilary Clinton and hosted a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate. Also, Apple withdrew its sponsorship of the GOP convention after a recording of Trump making vulgar comments about women came out.
On Trump side, the President-elect called for a widely unsuccessful boycott of Apple’s products after the company refused to create a backdoor on the iPhone for the FBI. As far as we know, Trump never directly commented on Musk or his businesses, but he is considering one of his propagandists, Laura Ingraham, for the role of White House Press Secretary. Ingraham’s organization is backing a smear campaign directly aimed at Elon Musk and his businesses.
That’s the extent of the background between the CEOs and Trump, but there’s also some history between Musk and Cook, or rather between Tesla and Apple. There has been a long and on-going “poaching war” for employees between the two companies, and Musk has called Apple ‘Tesla’s graveyard’:
“They have hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.”
But the meeting with Trump will likely revolve around manufacturing jobs in the US, and that’s where Musk’s Tesla shines. The company currently employs over 30,000 people and more than 25,000 are in the US. Tesla wants to add over 3,000 manufacturing jobs at its factory in Fremont, California, 1,000 at its solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, and up to 9,000 at the Gigafactory in Nevada.
Trump has often spoken about forcing Apple to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the US.
After the “graveyard” comment, Musk also took a swipe at Apple subcontracting some of its manufacturing when talking about the prospect of the company making a car:
“It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: build me a car. But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.”
Hopefully, they can put all of that behind them and move forward. We will report back if any of the people involved release information after the meeting.
Update: Quick recap of the meeting: Elon Musk to Donald Trump: ‘We build rockets, cars, and solar stuff – really excited about expanding our manufacturing footprint in the US.’
A live stream of the Trump Tower showed that Musk and Cook has already arrived – picture above and video below:
Video of the introduction of the meeting: