Tim Cook explains why Apple was present at Trump tech summit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
In a response to employee questions posted to Apple's internal message board, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday explained why he felt it necessary to attend President-elect Donald Trump's tech summit earlier this month.


Candid photo from President-elect Donald Trump's tech summit last week. | Source: Quartz


According to an Apple Web conversation obtained by TechCrunch, an employee asked Cook to explain the importance of Apple's presence at last week's meeting.

Specifically, the unnamed employee asked, "Last week you joined other tech leaders to meet President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?"

In response, Cook expounded on the benefits of active discourse between policymakers and tech leadership, suggesting the two camps have a symbiotic relationship or sorts.

"Governments can affect our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies," Cook said. "Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education. 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."

Cook's commentary appears to be an allusion to Trump's various stances -- at least those taken during his Presidential campaign -- on touchstone issues, from immigration to privacy, each of which being diametrically opposed to Apple's own viewpoint. That Trump so vociferously attacked Silicon Valley sentiment on the campaign trail prompted some to question why executives like Cook agreed to meet with Trump in the first place.

For Apple, Trump's tech summit represented an opportunity to start a dialogue on a number of fronts, including hot button social issues and policy decisions that directly impact the company's domestic and international operations. Beyond human rights and environmental advocacy, Cook referenced pending tax reform, job creation and the specter of intellectual property lawsuits.

"There's a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be," Cook said. "The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena."

Trump invited a who's who of tech executives to take part in a high-profile summit last week, with those in attendance including Cook, who sat only two seats away from the President-elect, Alphabet's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, IBM's Ginni Rometty, and Tesla's Elon Musk. Cook also took part in a private meeting with Trump behind closed doors, the proceedings of which are as yet unknown.

Cook's response in full:
It's very important. Governments can affect our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education. 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.

And of course, creating jobs is a key part of what we do by giving people opportunity not only with people that work directly for Apple, but the large number of people that are in our ecosystem. We're really proud that we've created 2 million jobs, just in this country. A great percentage of those are app developers. This gives everyone the power to sell their work to the world, which is an unbelievable invention in and of itself.

We have other things that are more business-centric -- like tax reform -- and something we've long advocated for: a simple system. And we'd like intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they don't do anything as a company.

There's a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. 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.

We very much stand up for what we believe in. We think that's a key part of what Apple is about. And we'll continue to do so.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    tallest skil[Deleted User]lkruppjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    robin huber[Deleted User]jbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    Sorry but you don't get anywhere by avoiding the issues at hand. Whether you like Trump or not (and for the record I don't), you still have to try and work with him and deal with issues that arise. 

    And why the hell does every damn topic have to be compared to what Steve did or what have done? Big deal! It means nothing today.
    edited December 2016 StrangeDaysSolimessagepad2100JinTechdewmelorin schultzjSnivelymwhiteapple jockeyanton zuykov
  • Reply 4 of 28
    At least Tim Cook acted like an adult instead of throwing tantrums. Trump was elected, so he must deal  with it, he has to anyway. I call this, act with integrity. 
    Deelronmessagepad2100georgie01adamcanton zuykovanantksundaramjfc1138watto_cobratdknoxjbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 28
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    I find Trump highly objectionable for so many reasons, and I find it shocking that this man has been elected to be president. As such I automatically question anybody who is willing to work with him. But Tim's letter makes sense. When you are in a position of great strength such as Apple, you have to engage. Agreement was never a requisite for engagement and Apple can actually make a difference for good.
    edited December 2016 Solimessagepad2100delreyjoneszoetmbjSnivelyapple jockeytokyojimustevenoztallest skillordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 6 of 28
    paxman said:
    Agreement was never a requisite for engagement and Apple can actually make a difference for good.
    I agree that engagement does not mean working for instead of working with. Apple does not work for Trump by attending the summit, but working with everyone to solve the problems listed in Cook's letter. This is the right approach.
    messagepad2100delreyjonesjSnivelywatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    You lost respect for Cook because he met with Trump? I'm glad Tim Cook gets it. Whether you like who's the president or not, you still have to work together to solve issues.
    edited December 2016 Solimessagepad2100georgie01mwhiteanton zuykovtallest skilgtrravnorodomjbdragonben20
  • Reply 8 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    You lost respect with the CEO of the largest corporation for taking a tech meeting with the next president of the united states? An administration who will assuredly make policy decisions that affect Apple in many ways. Mind blown. 
    Solimessagepad2100delreyjonesgeorgie01mwhiteanton zuykovjfc1138watto_cobratallest skilgtr
  • Reply 9 of 28

    This must be part of the Presidential 'check list'. The all do it.

    Timmy does not seem like a Happy Camper.

    As a side note--- Peter Thiel (the supposed scourge of silicon valley?) sitting between Tim (talk about opposites) and Trump.. after watching some of Peters You Tube interviews/talks... he seems very sincere, well read, very curious person, but he does have a 'different take' on things.

  • Reply 10 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    So if George W Bush had asked tech leaders to a summit at the White House Steve would have refused to go or refused to let Tim Cook or any other Apple employee go?
    mwhitejbdragon
  • Reply 11 of 28
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    I'll let TC do the rebuttal. 
    "I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. 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."
    Deplorable to think otherwise. 
    delreyjonesjSnivelyStrangeDaysapple jockeyjfc1138tdknoxai46
  • Reply 12 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Before or after Obama took the oath of office?
  • Reply 13 of 28
    frac said:
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    I'll let TC do the rebuttal. 
    "I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. 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."
    Deplorable to think otherwise. 
    I agree with frac, Tim rebuts very well before the comment was even written.  And "deplorable writing skills"?  Hmm.  I think Cook's prose is fine ... clear, direct and easy to understand.
    flaneurapple jockeyanton zuykovfracai46
  • Reply 14 of 28
    While Tim Cook's, or more accurately, Apple's actions seem obvious to me - I have a legitimate question: to the people who don't think Apple should have been in attendance (and have read Tim's response), why is that? Also do you separate Tim's business actions from Apple's, or do you see them as one in the same?
    apple jockeyai46
  • Reply 15 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    I lost complete respect for any of your comments -- this was not a piece of prose but an answer to a question from an employee. Sounds like it may have have been ask in a live setting where you usually do not have time to write and edit an answer (or have someone edit it for you). I know my first few days of dictating for transcription as a written letter sounded like a moron wrote them -- things got better, but even then I could always back up what I had dictated and not have to leave that way. Not so in a large meeting atmosphere.
    ai46roundaboutnow
  • Reply 16 of 28
    As Tim said, it's about engaging in discussions about public policy. It's about having a voice. Idealistic? Perhaps. But important.
    bestkeptsecret
  • Reply 17 of 28
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member
    There are 18.5 billion reasons for Cook to attend.  In a fight against the EU Apple will want the US Administration to apply pressure to reverse the unfair ruling.


  • Reply 18 of 28
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Before or after Obama took the oath of office?
    He gave him an iPad after. 
    ai46
  • Reply 19 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 


    Would you prefer working for a CEO who explains his position, or a CEO who says "F--- Off! None of your business"?

    I think it's good that Tim is explaining his stances. And these posts are to employees. It is reassuring that the CEO isn't ignoring your concerns.

    watto_cobraai46
  • Reply 20 of 28
    And Steve Jobs attended Obamas meeting with all the tech companies. No explanation necessary. 
    Steve Jobs was a life long Democrat who gladly helped the Obama election campaign. He was also a long time friend of the Clintons. I lost a lot of respect for Tim Cook this week; but probably more now with his deplorable writing skills.
    I lost complete respect for any of your comments -- this was not a piece of prose but an answer to a question from an employee. Sounds like it may have have been ask in a live setting where you usually do not have time to write and edit an answer (or have someone edit it for you). I know my first few days of dictating for transcription as a written letter sounded like a moron wrote them -- things got better, but even then I could always back up what I had dictated and not have to leave that way. Not so in a large meeting atmosphere.

    Yeah, over the past year or so, @mdriftmeyer's comments have become more and more antagonistic towards Apple. No idea why.
    watto_cobra
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