The Silicon Valley is known to have been critical of President-elect Donald Trump. Many were anxious when news broke out last week that the Trump transition team had invited some of America’s prominent tech leaders in a summit. But before the meeting even started it was already announced that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been added to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
Musk, along with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, joined other forum members that include JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon, GM Head May Barra, Disney’s Bob Iger and IBM’s Ginny Rometty. Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen Schawrzman will be the forum’s chair. According to The Washington Post, Trump officials revealed that the members of the forum will “meet with the president frequently”.
The addition of Musk and other top executives in an economic forum might also be a move for Trump to build a good relationship with the tech industry in the US. Trump said in a statement, “America has the most innovative and vibrant companies in the world, and the pioneering CEOs joining this Forum today are at the top of their fields. My administration is going to work together with the private sector to improve the business climate and make it attractive for firms to create new jobs across the United States from Silicon Valley to the heartland.”
Musk’s role as a strategic adviser to Trump’s forum might come as a surprise. It should be noted that Musk was vocal of his opposition on the President-elect. According to Forbes, Musk previously told CNBC before the election, “I think a bit strongly that [Trump] is probably not the right guy [for the presidency]. He doesn’t seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States.”
Musk is yet to release a statement on being a part of Trump’s forum. On the other hand, Kalanick said in a statement, “I look forward to engaging with our incoming President and this group on issues that affect our riders, drivers and the 450+ cities where we operate.” According to Recode, the Uber CEO was not present in the tech summit. Kalanick once joked about Trump back in October 2015 that he will be moving to China if he will win.
The other tech executives who were with Trump during the tech summit include Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Oracle’s Safra Catz, Cisco Systems’ Chuck Robbins and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. PayPal founder Peter Thiel was also there. He is the only vocal supporter of Trump from the tech industry.
Choosing Musk might be a good strategy for Trump since he was recently named as the most admired tech leader. Musk beat out Zuckerberg, Bezos and Steve Jobs in a survey by First Round among 700 founders.