“You Don’t Change Things by Just Yelling,” Cook on Why He Met with President-Elect Trump
Tim Cook was one of several tech leaders who had a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week. Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Oracle's Safra Catz, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla's Elon Musk, and Google's Eric Schmidt were a few of the top executives who joined the first tech roundtable with the President-elect.
Cook and Trump have had some clear differences on key issues. Trump criticized the company on more than one occasion, as we have extensively reported. But as a reminder, he wasn't happy with Apple denying to create backdoors in iOS to help the FBI, and wanted the company to create its products right in the United States.
If reports and Trump's meeting with Softbank (carrying Foxconn's logo and then latter's confirmation) are any hint, Apple is already working to bring some jobs back home. But what would happen on several other fronts, especially cyber security?
It's not a question we are asking, it is a question that Apple employees asked their chief. Many wondered why Cook attended the meeting in the first place. In a series of answers to questions posted on Apple’s internal employee info service Apple Web, Cook responded to this question today.
"Personally, I've never found being on the sideline a successful place to be," Cook wrote. "The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena."
He went on to say that "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."
Cook also mentions some of the core values of his company, including privacy and security, education, and combating climate change. While Cook never mentions Trump and writes his answer strictly in terms of the company interacting with the governments (explicitly mentioning China and South America), it is important to remember that Trump has taken very controversial stances on several of these issues. Security advocates believe that US intelligence agencies will get more surveillance powers under Trump, possibly pushing for weakened phone encryption. President-elect has also remained very vocal on the issue of climate change.
During Cook's first phone call to Trump on his election victory, President-elect had promised "large tax cuts" to the company. In his response, Cook also mentions tax reforms and how he'd like "intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they don’t do anything as a company." So there's at least one area where Trump could help the tech giant.
"We very much stand up for what we believe in," Cook assured his employees. "We think that’s a key part of what Apple is about. And we'll continue to do so."
Cook on why he joined last week's tech summit at Trump Tower
Here's the complete response (via TechCrunch, emphasis is ours) to the question, "Last week you joined other tech leaders to meet President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?"
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.