- Former President Donald Trump wanted tech executives’ approval, The New York Times reports.
- Trump told a meeting of tech leaders in 2016 that “everybody in this room has to like me.”
- Trump ultimately had a strained relationship with several execs throughout his administration.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In December 2016, Donald Trump, then president-elect, invited about a dozen tech leaders for a meeting at Trump Tower in New York.
The group, which included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google cofounder Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, was recorded by press photographers who captured a row of unhappy-looking tech executives.
But for Trump, it was important to gain the approval of some of the most powerful executives in the world.
“Everybody in this room has to like me,” Trump told the assembled group, according to The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, who investigated the relationship between Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and COO, Sandberg, as part of a forthcoming book about Facebook.
While attendees at the meeting put a positive spin on it – Bezos said afterward that the meeting was “very productive” – things had been strained between the tech world and Trump. Bezos had suggested shipping Trump off to space aboard a Blue Origin rocket, Apple had declined to fund the Republican National Convention because of Trump, and, according to The Times, Sandberg was still in shock following Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump and barely spoke at the meeting.
Still, Trump was optimistic about working with Silicon Valley leaders during the meeting, according to The Times.
“You’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “We have no formal chain of command over here.”
A 2016 Times report about the meeting said that Trump called the assembled guests a “truly amazing group of people” and told them that he was “here to help you folks do well.”
But in the years following, Trump’s relationship with many Silicon Valley leaders became increasingly strained. He made Bezos a frequent target and openly feuded with Twitter, and reportedly made his displeasure about some Facebook policies known to Zuckerberg directly. Tech leaders spoke out against Trump’s immigration policies and condemned the siege on Capitol Hill.
Soon after the riots, Silicon Valley delivered the ultimate condemnation of Trump’s policies: locking him out of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, a temporary measure that has been extended indefinitely.