Trump Wants To Work With Tech CEOs, But Who Will Be Willing?

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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The White House announced a new executive order Monday establishing a team that will likely work with the private sector to update the federal government’s digital infrastructure.

The American Technology Council’s formation is part of a larger effort spearheaded by senior adviser Jared Kushner aimed to unite leaders of private companies with government officials, according to Axios. The White House plans on bringing around 20 tech CEOs to participate in a related summit.

How willing tech CEOs will be in directly engaging with President Donald Trump and his associates is at least partially dubious. A number of employees at tech companies may protest their own place of employment if their bosses work with the administration. (RELATED: Google Boss: Trump Admin Is Going To Do ‘Evil Things’)

Such demonstrations against Trump were fairly widespread in recent months. The outcries were likely a contributing factor to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s exit from Trump’s economic advisory team.

An Uber executive called Trump a “deplorable person” in a passionate email sent to colleagues following the 2016 presidential election. The president of Uber quit after only six months at the ride-sharing company, attributing his resignation to inconsistent views with fellow leaders. The decision to depart could have also stemmed from the number of other scandals the company has experienced.

Kalanick originally seemed intent on remaining a member of the board, despite the president’s executive orders restricting immigration, which is what many in Silicon Valley strongly opposed. (RELATED: Immigrant-Laden Tech Industry Takes Trump To Court Over Immigration Ban)

“Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” Kalanick wrote in a letter to employees, according to Mike Isaac of The New York Times. “The implicit assumption that Uber (or I) was somehow endorsing the Administration’s agenda has created a perception-reality gap between who people think we are, and who we actually are.”

The criticism, which came from both internal employees and the general public, was evidently too much for Kalanick, who subsequently resigned from the role.

The in-house protests weren’t exclusive to Uber. (RELATED: Facebook Employees Are Boycotting Air Travel Over Trump’s Immigration Ban)

A high-level staff member at Oracle, a large computer technology corporation resigned in December after co-CEO Safra Catz agreed to join the Trump transition team.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk iterated multiple times that he is staying on Trump’s economic advisory board to “serve the greater good.”

One of Kushner’s closest associates, Chris Liddell, will be the newly established council’s director, according to Axios. Liddell was the former CFO of Microsoft.

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