Comms + policy. Author of #digitaldiplomacy (2015), Twitter for Diplomats (2013). My views here.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and sits on Facebook board, is the guy president-elect Donald Trump trusts to formulate a tech policy for the new administration. And how to best approach the topic and nurture a policy agenda for the future than with a gathering of tech leaders?
“Tech’s day of reckoning,” as the New York Times calls it.
According to news reports, Trump and his transition team, including Thiel, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, are inviting technology groups to a roundtable December 14.
The problem is that it is not clear who is invited and who is going.
Certainly, the tech industry hasn’t shown much love for Trump and his agenda — Thiel in fact is one of the very few to have embraced the president-elect’s ideas and views, together with Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM, nominated to Trump’s council of business advisers, the only tech insider of the 16 business leaders on the president-elect’s strategic and policy forum. And David Sacks, formerly with software start-up Zenefits, just resigned to join Trump’s transition team.
Let’s not forget that Trump took aim at several Silicon Valley companies during the campaign, including Rometty’s IBM, Apple, and Amazon. He said IBM is moving jobs outside of the US, he called for a consumer boycott of Apple, and he sees antitrust issues with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Commenting on the upcoming meeting, TechCruch believes some of Thiel’s focus will likely be on cybersecurity, net neutrality, and jobs.
However, while the agenda for the meeting has not yet been disclosed— or perhaps is still under consideration — and it’s not clear whether Trump himself will attend, only a few tech executives have confirmed their participation. Among them Safra Catz of Oracle and Chuck Robbins of Cisco Systems, according to the New York Times.
The agenda […] is unlikely to produce the sort of love fest that existed between President Obama and Silicon Valley.
According to USA Today: “Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and self-described ‘proud Republican’ who had supported Trump rival Hillary Clinton in the campaign, won’t attend, the company said.”
So far, however, most Silicon Valley giants are not commenting on Trump’s tech roundtable and whether they will attend.