When executives of some of the country’s biggest tech companies crowded around a conference table in Trump Tower to meet with the President-Elect Wednesday, one face was curiously absent. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hadn’t been invited to the meeting — and a new Politico report claims that the snub was payback for Twitter refusing to run “Crooked Hillary” emoji during the election campaign.
Trump had invited executives from Google/ Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Palantir, Tesla and others to talk tech Wednesday. Photos posted from the meeting showed Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and other high-profile executives in attendance.
Also present were controversial Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, Donald Trump’s children Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump jr. as well as RNC strategist Sean Spicer.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hadn’t been invited, and Spicer had told CNN earlier Wednesday that Dorsey could join the group for follow-up meetings. Trump himself joked at the beginning of the meeting that Thiel had told him not to invite certain companies because they weren’t big enough.
A Trump transition team spokesperson later told Reuters that this was the only reason Twitter wasn’t at the table.
However, Politico suggested that the snub was a calculated response to an advertising dispute between Trump’s election campaign and Twitter. Trump’s campaign had committed to spending at least $5 million on Twitter ads during the campaign, and also wanted to introduce a custom “Crooked Hillary” emoji as part of that campaign.
The emoji, which played on unproven accusations of financial improprieties at the Clinton Foundation, was initially supposed to be a hand holding a bag of money. After discussions with Twitter’s staff, the campaign instead settled on a stick figure running away with a bag of money.
Twitter eventually killed both emoji as well as any further emoji proposed by the campaign, and Trump campaign digital advertising director Gary Coby alleged in a blog post last month that this decision was driven by a direct intervention from Twitter’s leadership.
Ironically, Trump used the opening of the meeting to promise the tech industry a better working relationship. “I’m here to help you folks do well,” he said. Trump went on to praise the attendees for their work, saying: “There’s nobody like you in the world.” Trump also promised to establish a direct line of communication for tech companies, and said that his administration wanted to make cross-border trade easier.
Here are Trump’s full opening remarks: