Trump woos movers and shakers in tech sector

(From left) Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Inc's Larry Page, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, US Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and US President-elect Donald Trump. Most of the Silicon Valley titans had supported Mr Trump's rival, Mrs Hillary Clinton, dur
(From left) Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Inc's Larry Page, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, US Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and US President-elect Donald Trump. Most of the Silicon Valley titans had supported Mr Trump's rival, Mrs Hillary Clinton, during the presidential election.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Topics at meeting include cyber security and repatriating US profits stashed overseas

NEW YORK • US President-elect Donald Trump met some of the most powerful tech executives in the United States in a bid to mend fences with a largely pro-Hillary Clinton industry and promote job creation and trade.

The summit at Trump Tower in New York gathered some of the wealthiest and brightest brains in the tech industry around the same table as the incoming Republican president after a bruising election campaign that revealed a bitterly divided country.

Five weeks before the 70-year-old property tycoon is scheduled to take office, the participants discussed improving cyber security, repatriating US profits stashed overseas and market access with China, among other topics, according to the Trump transition team.

Tech firms led by Apple are responsible for the lion's share of an estimated US$2.5 trillion (S$3.6 trillion) being held overseas by US companies, which are reluctant to bring those funds back and face a hefty tax bill.

It was hostile territory for Mr Trump, meeting Silicon Valley titans who - with the notable exception of PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel - threw their weight behind his Democratic rival, Mrs Clinton, during the campaign.

MENDING FENCES

I'm here to help you folks do well. We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation.

MR DONALD TRUMP, to some of the US' most powerful tech executives.

"I'm here to help you folks do well," Mr Trump told the executives in opening remarks that reporters were briefly allowed to observe.

"We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There's nobody like you in the world."

Mr Trump and US Vice-President-elect Mike Pence sat side by side at the middle of the table, surrounded by CEOs that included Apple's Tim Cook, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Alphabet Inc's Larry Page and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Mr Trump's three eldest children - Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric - also attended the meeting, as did Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner and other key Trump staffers.

The most glaring absence was that of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey - even more so given the president-elect's prolific use of the social network and its expanding list of 17.3 million followers.

Politico reported that Twitter was "bounced" from the meeting in retribution for refusing during the campaign to allow an emoji version of the hashtag #CrookedHillary.

Separately, Mr Trump has announced three additional members of his Strategic and Policy Forum.

They are Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, who was also at Wednesday's gathering, Uber Technologies CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick and PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Trump woos movers and shakers in tech sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe