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Elon Musk Among Tech Titans Who Met With Trump

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【Summary】Musk will be advising Trump as part of his Strategic and Policy Forum, according to the Washington Post. The Tesla head also represents the automotive community in a different way than the CEOs of legacy automakers do, given that Musk and Tesla have approached the industry differently (with factory-direct sales for instance).

Original Timothy Healey    Dec 17, 2016 1:50 PM PT
Elon Musk Among Tech Titans Who Met With Trump

Tech titans met with president-elect Donald Trump earlier this week, and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk was one of those in attendance.

Musk's presence makes sense, although more so because of overall business ventures – Tesla, as influential as it has been, is still a small automotive player.

With president-elect Trump, a Republican who made his name in business, it's not surprising that tech titans would travel to New York just to meet with him, although these folks would've certainly had plenty of interaction with a hypothetical president Hillary Clinton, especially given how important the tech industry has become.

"I plan to tell the president-elect that we are with him and are here to help in any way we can," Oracle CEO Safra Catz told Reuters in an emailed statement. "If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation, and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology community will be stronger and more competitive than ever."

Musk will be advising Trump as part of his Strategic and Policy Forum, according to the Washington Post. Musk had taken shots at Trump during the campaign.

"He doesn't seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States," he told CNBC in November." Musk also said Trump was "not the right" guy for the job.

Musk's inclusion in the meeting matters for a variety of reasons. One is that Musk doesn't lead a company with a market capitalization of $150 million or more, and he was the only invitee who doesn't. That means Musk is still highly thought of despite company size.

Musk strongly disagrees on Trump regarding climate change, and perhaps Musk's influence will persuade the president elect to see things differently on that issue. Musk also represents the automotive community in a different way than the CEOs of legacy automakers do, given that Musk and Tesla have approached the industry differently (with factory-direct sales for instance). So Musk's voice could provide balance. Finally, Trump ran a campaign that emphasized American manufacturing, and Tesla does its manufacturing on American soil, and that looks to continue with the opening of the gigafactory in Nevada.

"Building rockets and cars and solar stuff in the U.S. – actually really excited about expanding our manufacturing footprint in the U.S.," Musk said when he introduced himself at the meeting. Tesla has already created about 30,000 jobs in the U.S.

Trump will certainly meet with many other CEOs over the next four years, including from legacy automakers, but Musk, along with Uber boss Travis Kalanick, who will be taking on a similar advisory role, could end up becoming one of the most influential ones.


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