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Silicon Valley tries to reassure itself that the future under Trump isn't so bleak

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016.

As President-elect Donald Trump meets with President Barack Obama, executives at tech's biggest companies are urging employees put aside the nastiness of this past election season, and look toward a bright future.

Over the course of his campaign, Trump promised to take action against Amazon, which he said had "a huge antitrust problem," vowed to force Apple to make its devices in the U.S., and called for a boycott of its products.

Trump's behavior "erodes our democracy around the edges" Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said last month. The company's stock has sunk on news of Trump's victory. But on Thursday, Bezos sounded a different note, publicly embracing Trump in a tweet.


Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay and Box posted public statements and emailed employees to reassure the community, though most stopped short of issuing congratulations to America's new leader. Silicon Valley, of course, leans heavily left and the Trump surprise sent many technologists reeling.

Despite all the uncertainty many people may be feeling at this time, "Apple's North Star hasn't changed," Apple CEO Tim Cook, who did not mention Trump by name, said in an email to the company's U.S. employees on Wednesday evening. He urged people to move forward, regardless of which candidate they had supported, and reassured them that the company will continue to embrace diversity.

"Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world — regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love."

At a conference on Thursday, Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt congratulated Trump on winning the presidency, which he called a "significant achievement" and a "pretty amazing story."

Despite political discord and a perceived lack of job opportunity, the American economy is doing well, said Schmidt. That said, immigration reform is desperately needed to enable tech companies to hire the world's top engineers and remain competitive, Schmidt said. Immigration reform is perhaps tech's top priority for the next administration.

Trump's victory signaled widespread discontent about economic opportunity, something which technology can help address, several technology executives suggested. For example, eBay's marketplace empowers buyers and sellers, LinkedIn's tools help people find jobs and develop skills, and Apple's devices connect people, leaders at those companies reminded employees.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reminded people in a LinkedIn post that the world is witnessing democracy in action and linked to the company's blog with recommendations for the new administration and Congress.

"We congratulate the president-elect, and look forward to working with all those elected yesterday. Our commitment to our mission and values are steadfast, and in particular fostering a diverse and inclusive culture," Nadella wrote.

On things like cybersecurity, STEM education and regulatory reform, cloud storage company Box will collaborate with government, wrote CEO Aaron Levie in a note to employees on Tuesday night that was later posted online. The company will also fight to protect technologists' closely held values, such as tolerance and inclusion.

"Much of the work that President Obama and other leaders have pushed through on critically important social issues over the past few years has been challenged throughout this campaign cycle. This is scary," wrote Levie.

"I'm hopeful that over the coming weeks and months we'll start to see a very different style from the President-elect. Some of the ideas that were proposed in this campaign cycle would be disastrous if put into action, and I'm confident they will not come to pass," he wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was "feeling hopeful," in a Facebook post early Thursday morning. Zuckerberg urged the community to look to the future, find new ways to collaborate to tackle the world's most pressing issues — such as improving education and promoting equal opportunity — buckle down and get back to work.

"This work is bigger than any presidency and progress does not move in a straight line," wrote Zuckerberg. "We are all blessed to have the ability to make the world better, and we have the responsibility to do it. Let's go work even harder."