As initial photos emerged from Wednesday's gathering of the tech elite at Trump Tower in New York City, the most apparent reaction from those gathered appeared to be one of bewildered frustration. However, Recode reports that for the most part those in attendance were less bothered at the need to kiss the president-elect's ring than happy to talk about tax policy in regard to tech profits stashed overseas. Oh, and there were plenty of laughs.
The meeting itself was off limits to the press, so the publication sourced its coverage of what went down from several unnamed individuals close to the executives in attendance. And that list of attendees reads as the definitive who's who of Silicon Valley — with the notable exception of Twitter's Jack Dorsey. Alphabet's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (who just joined Trump's advisory team), Satya Nadella of Microsoft, and others sat around a giant table with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Peter Thiel at the center.
According to The New York Times, Trump kicked things off by feting those in attendance. “This is a truly amazing group of people,” the next president of the United States observed. “There’s nobody like you in the world. In the world! There’s nobody like the people in this room.” From there, after the reporters left, they started talking turkey.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reportedly asked about H-1B visas, to which the Donald responded “What can I do to make it better?” Cook and Sandberg pressed Trump on funding STEM education, and Schmidt said Trump should be "the software president." Trump, perhaps not knowing what software is, misheard that as a request to be a "soft president."
The Donald, he assured them all, is not soft — a response which Recode reports elicited a round of hearty laughter.
Notably, not everyone looked to be having a good time. Cook, who has tried to reassure his employees following Trump's win, appeared to find the entire ordeal less than pleasant.