Tim Cook reveals why he met Donald Trump
Donald Trump had a lot of trash-talking to do about Apple during the campaign, promising to make the company build its computers in the USA, and saying people should boycott the iPhone until Apple assisted the FBI by unlocking the San Bernardino killers’ handsets. His own personal boycott lasted a matter of days, but it’s fair to say the feeling was mutual. Tim Cook was busy hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and pulling out of supporting the Republican convention in the build-up to the election.
So how do they build a working relationship? Previously, we’ve only heard from Trump on the issue, who gave his very one-sided account of a phone conversation with Apple’s CEO. The next thing we know, Cook – along with other influential tech bigwigs worth a cumulative $3 trillion – were sitting around a table listening to Trump butter them up.
So why was Cook there, and how did he feel about the encounter? We have some idea of this now, thanks to a leaked internal memo to employees obtained by TechCrunch.
In short, it’s down to the things Cook says Apple cares about: things such as renewable energy, tax reform and intellectual property reform. “There’s a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage,” Cook wrote. “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.”
As a small point of order, it’s worth pointing out that Trump himself has managed to change quite a lot just by yelling, but the broader point remains a good one.
“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,” Cook wrote, concluding the memo. It’s fair to say that while he and the president-elect are unlikely to ever be firm friends, they can both see that they have to find a mutual respect to make the next four years even remotely tolerable. Both men seem prepared to make that leap, no matter what was said in the heat of campaigning.
You can read the full memo on TechCrunch.