Trump summoned his group of tech-world minions to the White House today for another round of nervously nodding and accomplishing nothing. But attendance was down a little bit this time around. Sure, plenty of cowards still showed up with a foolish but optimistic gleam in their eye. But some, at least, seem to be feeling that this shit just isn’t worth it.
The purpose of the meeting of the American Technology Council on Monday was, ostensibly, to discuss some disruptive ideas for modernizing the US government. But for many observers, it was a chance to see what leaders in tech will still lend their credibility to a man and an administration that has none. The official answer is no leaders actually dropped out of the council. That would be the only move that actually carried weight. But two expected attendees didn’t show up.
Over the weekend it was reported that the tech CEOs that were invited didn’t want to confirm their attendance and were nervous about the continued association with Trump. But it was also reported that they were feeling it was more risky to not show up. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins were the only executives to take the risk. But both used the spineless excuse that they had scheduling conflicts. Robbins had previously confirmed to Politico that he would be attending but when his name wasn’t present on the guest list, a spokesperson told the news outlet “Chuck is no longer able to attend due to a [scheduling] conflict.” It’s kind of like when you don’t want to date someone anymore and you start just responding to every other text message. You don’t have the guts to just end it, so you keep dragging it out and hoping they’ll just lose interest.
Travis Kalanick and Elon Musk were also not at the meeting. They both had previously participated as advisors to Trump. But when the association became too much of a focus in the public’s eye, they decided that their principles were most important.
So, who still doesn’t care about their principles? That would be:
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
Executive Chairman of Alphabet Eric Schmidt
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Oracle CEO Safra Catz
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich
Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen
Palantir CEO Alex Karp
Vampire CEO Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor and Trump adviser
John Doerr of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
OpenGov CEO Zachary Bookman
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger
Akamai CEO Tom Leighton
SAP CEO Bill McDermott
Accenture Chief Executive for North America Julie Sweet
MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga
Tim Cook has notably been uncomfortable with his status as an advisor and has condemned Trump’s decisions before, but he’s maintained that he’s “never found being on the sideline a successful place to be.” How did things go today, Tim?
How about you, Jeff Bezos? We know you need a friendly government to approve your big merger with Whole Foods. Was the meeting a success?
The tech industry may not be the most morally sound place on Earth, but it has a distinct set of ideals that it has championed for a long time. The Trump administration holds none of those ideals except for the worship of making buckets of money. For now, it looks like that’ll be enough.