It wasnt so much a reckoning as a reboot.
The nations top tech executives couldnt know what to expect when they headed to Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday for what President-elect Donald Trumps transition team had billed as an innovation summit. They had reason to fear an ambush.
But if Trump holds grudges against Silicon Valley for the way that many of its denizens maligned and ridiculed him at every step of the presidential campaign, he worked hard not to let them show.
If Trumps opening comments were any indication, this was no repeat of that ill-fated meeting he called with broadcast and cable TV news executives days after the election, during which he mostly dressed them down.
If any grudges were in the air, they were over who was not in the 25th-floor meeting room Wednesday.
Trumps favorite social media platform, Twitter, was absent, for example. Politico attributed it to retribution for the company refusing during the campaign to abide Trumps request to generate a #CrookedHillary emoji.
Twitters refusal to create a digital running stick figure holding a money bag is a grievance that his director of digital advertising aired on Medium a few weeks ago.
Trump representatives denied that was why Twitter was left out of the high tech confab. They said Twitter didnt make the cut because it wasnt a big enough company. It has a market capitalization of about $13.8 billion, less than half that of Tesla, which attended the meeting.
Trump himself boasted at the top of the meeting about the deluge of requests to attend.
I wont tell you the hundreds of calls weve had, asking to come to this meeting, Trump said. He looked to Pay Pal co-founder Peter Thiel, an eccentric billionaire who was among the lone tech giants to back Trumps campaign and who now is seen by many tech executives as a potential lifeline in the new administration as he sent out invitations.
Peter would sort of say, You know, that companys too small.
Those executives that did make the cut, Trump declared, led monster companies. They included Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Elon Musk of Tesla, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Googles parent company, Alphabet.
Im here to help you folks do well, Trump said, before taking credit for the bump in the stock market that followed his election. And youre doing well right now and Im very honored by the bounce. Theyre all talking about the bounce. So right now everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit.
It was the get-along side of Trump on full display. The meeting was to be a symbol of an administration that would not hew to ideology but the best ideas.
Trumps representatives spent the hours leading up to the meeting talking to the press about how good Trump is at listening, even to the people who despise him.
Plenty of folks back in Silicon Valley werent buying it. The executives who flew to New York found themselves confronted with letters, petitions and public scoldings from colleagues who reminded them that Trump has yet to disavow any parts of his agenda that most appalled Silicon Valley during the election.
Now, more than ever, tech leaders must stand up for human dignity, and examine their role in public discourse, Pierre Omidyar wrote as he retweeted an article that pilloried tech leaders for going to Trump Tower.
Nearly two dozen advocacy groups, including Amnesty International USA and Democracy for America, demanded to know why most of the companies at the meeting are refusing to pledge not to help Trump build any type of registry for Muslims, as he suggested during the campaign.
More than 640 tech workers, many of them from firms represented at the Trump Tower meeting, vowed to undermine any creation of databases of identifying information for the United States government to target individuals based on race, religion or national origin.
Reports from inside the meeting room suggest that the tech leaders did not heed the call for confrontation. Amazon Chief Executive Bezos, whose ownership of The Washington Post made him an occasional focus of Trumps ire during the campaign, declared the meeting very productive.
I shared my view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, Bezos said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Trump added the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Teslas Musk to his business advisory council, which had previously had only one representative from the tech industry, Ginni Rometty, chief executive of IBM. Both Kalanick and Musk were bitter critics of Trump during the race.
Trump showered the group with praise. And before reporters were ushered out of the room, he made a point of assuaging the tech leaders concerns about his threats to slap tariffs on companies that manufacture their products abroad, as most big Silicon Valley firms do.
Were going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders, Trump told them.
Theres nobody like you in the world, he added. Theres nobody like the people in this room. And anything we can do to help this go along were going to be there for you. And youll call my people, youll call me. It doesnt make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.