Tech CEOs Respond Like A Bunch Of Helpless Robots To Trump’s Election

Tech CEOs Respond Like A Bunch Of Helpless Robots To Trump’s Election

We’ve had a day to process the reality that yes, Donald Trump is America’s new President-elect. We’ve already talked about what this means for women’s bodies, education, public health, space and the environment, and the short answer is that we’re all scared.

Image: Composite/AP

But what do tech CEOs have to say for themselves? Surely the industry that prided itself of standing up against Donald Trump has some words of wisdom for all of us, right? Well. Sort of.

A number of major tech CEOs have responded to the election, but most have fallen short on commenting directly on what President-elect Trump means for their businesses or employees. Here are the types of responses we’re seeing thus far.

The Everything’s Going to Be Fine Staff Email

This is the tactic taken by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Box CEO Aaron Levie. Cook sent an email to all Apple employees Wednesday night local time. It reads in part:

We have a very diverse team of employees, including supporters of each of the candidates. Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together. I recall something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This advice is timeless, and a reminder that we only do great work and improve the world by moving forward.

While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed. Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. 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.

Levie, who hasn’t been shy about sharing his opposition to Trump on Twitter this election, also sent an email to employees. But in true tech CEO style, he also released an edited version on Medium. Here’s an excerpt (this email is long):

Our company has been built on the principle of bringing together people from all walks of life to do amazing work by creating an environment where we trust each other, work collaboratively, and have a deep respect for one another.

It’s not always apparent day-to-day to all of us, but many groups have been through an emotional roller coaster of toxic rhetoric and behaviours throughout this campaign; it’s been taxing, stressful and more. For many, the fear and concerns as a result of this election won’t go away quickly or easily. 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.

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.

Levie has also tweeted a few of this thoughts, including this:

The Congratulations President-elect Trump LinkedIn Note

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted a weird note to LinkedIn (natch) commenting on the election. On the one hand, Nadella (who is an immigrant) talks about how important it is for Microsoft to foster “a diverse and inclusive culture”. On the other hand, he outright congratulates Trump. The LinkedIn update reads:

Yesterday we witnessed the democratic process in action here in the US. The results are of importance around the world, and I know that interest is shared among Microsoft employees. 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. With that in mind and looking to the future, Brad Smith today outlined in a blog Microsoft’s thoughts and recommendations for the new Administration and Congress.

But that status update was really just pretence for a link to a blog entry from Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith outlining the company’s thoughts on the election. That blog entry says a whole lot of nothing, but the underlining message seems to be, “please work with us and give us money.” Classic Microsoft.

The Tweetstorm or Single Tweets

Unsurprisingly, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed his thoughts in a tweetstorm.

Notably, Dorsey has no public comment on Twitter’s role in the election and in how its lack-of-harassment safeguards helped embolden and galvanise a political movement. Maybe next time.

Once upon a time, Salesforce wanted to buy Twitter. Sadly for Twitter, the service was just too toxic, and Salesforce bowed out. But its CEO Marc Benioff went ahead and tweeted his congratulations to Trump anyway.

Perhaps attempting to stave off the criticism of that tweet, Benioff then retweeted a post showing how an image claiming to show how young people voted in the election.

Tech CEOs Respond Like A Bunch Of Helpless Robots To Trump’s Election

But that didn’t stop him from immediately taking a swipe at Netflix:

Like Benioff, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also sent out his congratulations via Twitter.

This is interesting because Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post, a newspaper Donald Trump absolutely hates. Not only was The Post consistently critical of Trump in the lead-up to the election, it also broke the infamous “grab ’em by the p***y” story. It was also briefly banned from covering Trump events.

Just last month, Bezos joked about wanting to send Trump into space, and in the past Trump has called Amazon a “no profit company”. Bezos previously classified Trump’s disdain of the political process as “erod[ing] our democracy around the edges”. But you know, open minds and such.

The Facebook Post About Other Stuff

Mark Zuckerberg responded to the election on his Facebook page with a message that said, “Let’s work hard.”

But rather than address anything of substance, Zuckerberg just uses his daughter Max as a way to say that we should be focused on curing diseases and improving education. These are important goals. I’m curious how Zuckerberg thinks those things get done when you have a President-elect who is anti-science and anti-education.

Like Dorsey, Zuckerberg did not address the critique that Facebook itself played a large role in the election of Donald Trump

The Silent CEOs

And then, there are the CEOs who haven’t said anything publicly at all. That list includes:

  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (he has, however, retweeted remarks from TED founder Chris Anderson and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek)
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (she probably has bigger problems)
  • HP CEO Meg Whitman (the former Republican candidate for governor of California did however, endorse Hillary Clinton for President)
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai
  • Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel
  • IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Like the rest of the world, the tech industry will be impacted by the results of this election. Based on Trump’s previous statements, many of those changes could have negative consequences for the industry as a whole. It would be nice to think that would cause leaders to speak out more quickly next time. Sadly, this probably just means the tech lobbying machine will shift to the incoming administration. In a sense, it doesn’t have a choice.

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