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The animosity between our soon to be President Trump and the tech world has been well documented. They didn't like Trump, and Trump, it seemed, didn't very much like them. All you had to do was look at the reaction of so many in Silicon Valley when he won; this was clearly not the outcome that most of them wanted. Except for Peter Thiel, of course.
Despite the rocky history, there are some signs that Trump is looking to make nice with one of America's most important industries. On Wednesday, he announced that he is adding some new members to his Strategic and Policy Forum, two of which are big time tech CEOs: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
As members of the Forum, both Musk and Kalanick will be tasked with giving the President their views on how his policies will impact the private sector in terms of economic growth, job creation and productivity.
“America has the most innovative and vibrant companies in the world, and the pioneering CEOs joining this Forum today are at the top of their fields,” Trump said in a statement. “My Administration is going to work together with the private sector to improve the business climate and make it attractive for firms to create new jobs across the United States from Silicon Valley to the heartland.”
Kalanick is likely one of the more conservative figures in tech, so his appointment makes sense. He's a well-known libertarian, and someone who has mentioned that his philosophy has been shaped, at least in part, by the works of Ayn Rand. Musk, who has called himself "somewhat libertarian," is the more interesting choice, as he had been openly critical of Trump's candidacy.
"I feel a bit stronger that he is not the right guy," Musk said in an interview with CNBC on November 4, a few days before the election. "He doesn't seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States."
In addition to Musk and Kalanick, the third member being added to the Forum is Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. They will be joining Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM; Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric; Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co; and Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
“I look forward to engaging with our incoming president and this group on issues that affect our riders, drivers and the 450+ cities where we operate," Kalanick said in a statement provided to VatorNews by Uber.
A spokesperson for SpaceX would only confirm that Musk had joined the Forum, but would not comment any further.
Trump embraces Silicon Valley
The addition of Kalanick and Musk to his advisory team is a step in the right direction for Trump, who will need to work in concert with the private sector to help create jobs and boost the economy.
For a while it seemed like Trump's only friend in Silicon Valley would be PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who was a California delegate for Trump and who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July. He also bankrolled the Trump campaign, donating $1.25 million.
That all earned Thiel a spot on the Trump transition team, where he is helping to vet candidates, and to decide which policies Trump should pursue.
Perhaps it was Thiel who was able to convince others in the tech world to work with Trump, and to convince Trump to embrace an industry that had backed his opponent. The news about Musk and Kalanick comes on the same day that Trump is set to meet with some of the leaders in the tech world, including Sheryl Sandberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Tim Cook, at Trump Tower.
One interesting name left off the list was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, despite the large role the platform took in helping him win.
(Image source: trumptowerny.com)