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Some Tech CEOs are Facing a Backlash after Meeting Trump

Around the same time Apple CEO Tim Cook was telling everyone why the tech sector should engage with Donald Trump, a manager at Oracle was resigning over CEO Safra Catz’s decision to join the president-elect’s transition team.

George Polisner, an Oracle director who helped lead its cloud division, said in an open letter on LinkedIn that he couldn’t accept Catz’s position that the company was “with” Trump and would do anything it could to help his administration.

His departure and subsequent establishment of an online anti-Trump petition, similar to one making the rounds at IBM, shows that CEOs are still treading a precarious path between rejecting, supporting or remaining indifferent to Trump’s election.

“I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way,” Polisner wrote. “In fact, when his polices border on unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust, I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.”

“I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way.

Polisner’s petition to Oracle staff calling on the company to distance itself from Trump had 50 signatures, according to its last update, posted seven hours ago.

Some staffers at IBM have set up a similar petition at the computer company that, so far, has garnered at least 100 signatures. They were angered by CEO Ginni Rometty’s decision to write a letter to Trump offering him the company’s assistance. IBM also has pledged to create 25,000 jobs in America over the next four years in an apparent nod to Trump’s protectionist leanings.

“As you know, more than 400,000 IBMers around the world work in environments where diversity—including diversity of thought—is the norm. IBM values this because our diversity helps create innovation that enhances every aspect of our business,” a note accompanying the petition said.

For his part, Apple’s Tim Cook said there’s little that the tech sector can achieve if it doesn’t even have a seat at the negotiating table. “Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” he wrote on an internal Apple message board. “We engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree.”

CEOs from Oracle and Apple weren’t the only tech titans to meet with Trump in New York last week. The summit was also attended by Google’s Larry Page, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, among others.

But there were also some notable absences, such as Salesforce’s Mark Benioff, Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. The tech industry also is full of smaller, up-and-coming dispruptors offering irked staff plenty of arms to run to should they disagree with their CEO’s “Trump engagement strategy”.

About Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.