Tim Cook tells Apple staff why he attended Trump tech summit

Jon Swartz
Peebles on Tim Cook's letter on Trump tech summit

Apple CEO Tim Cook said he felt it was necessary to "engage" when President-elect Donald Trump — who has railed against Apple and other tech companies — invited him and about a dozen tech executives to attend a summit in New York last week.

"Personally, I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be," Cook told employees on its internal employee info service. "The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it's in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage.

"And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it's very important to do that because you don't change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it's a debate of ideas."

Warming relationship between Trump and the tech sector

The comments were first reported by news site TechCrunch.

Cook and some of tech's biggest names — Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, among them — met with Trump to discuss jobs, immigration policy, China, cybersecurity and corporate tax rates.

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"Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education," Cook said. "They're on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. They're on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy."

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Trump, who dinged Apple over security and jobs and Amazon on corporate taxes, told the assembled execs at Trump Tower, "I want to add that I'm here to help you folks do well."

Trump called the meeting productive, but many in Silicon Valley questioned the participation of the execs, most of whom supported Hillary Clinton.

Cook offered a reason his CEO brethren probably agree with — better to participate than pass. "We very much stand up for what we believe in," Apple's CEO concluded. "We think that's a key part of what Apple is about. And we'll continue to do so."