Donald Trump's rabidly pro-business view of the US economy has so far failed to stir excitement in Silicon Valley. Perhaps because he's spent much of the past 18 months behaving like a 70-year-old developer who is openly nauseated that tech nerds who are probably ugly can make billions of dollars from ideas that are dumb because he doesn't understand them.
So when news broke a few days back that Trump was inviting some of the biggest names in The Valley to Trump Tower for a little tete a tete, there was some concern that the meeting would go as well as the time Trump summoned the TV news media to his office and proceeded to browbeat them. But judging from early reports and bizarre video, it seems like Trump is trying to make friends with Silicon Valley in the most Trumpian of ways.
To set the scene, Trump had the biggest names in the tech industry go around the table and introduce themselves and why they were excited to meet the President-elect. That presented us with the agonizingly surreal moment of Amazon founder, WaPo owner and avowed enemy of the new administration Jeff Bezos saying out loud that he was "psyched" to be there.
We don't believe it either, but there's fucking video:
The whole meeting seems to have been orchestrated in large part by Peter Thiel, a guy who was a tech industry pariah a few weeks ago but is now the industry's conduit to the President-elect. And we know that relationship is strong because we have video of this super-bro handshake they engaged in:
He then proceeded to tell the assembled luminaries (plus Mike Pence, Gary Cohn, Wilbur Ross, and his three oldest kids for some reason) that everyone in the room was impressive and special and that they are going to do great in his new America. But first there was the small matter of not-so-subtly demanding their fealty:
But how great is the annoyingly ephemeral tech industry going to do under Trump? Well how do you like a total reversal of PEOTUS' pre-stated trade policy Because that's what he seemed to be offering.
Here are his actual words:
"We're gonna do fair trade deals. We're gonna make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders, because [there 's] a lot of restrictions, a lot of border problems. But I think you'll see -- if you have any ideas on that, that would be great. Because there are a lot of border restrictions and a lot of border problems. You probably have less of a problem than some companies. Some companies have massive problems, but we're gonna solve those problems.”
At that point, cameras and their operators were gently shoved from the conference room and -at the time of this post- the meeting is still going on, but it is unclear if Bezos is still psyched, or if anyone dared to mention to PEOTUS that tech is already the most potent export sector in the S&P 500, or if Elon Musk has tele-ported from the room to escape the palpably awkward tension of the strangest meeting ever.