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Twitter excluded from Trump meeting with tech leaders

Trump talks tech

As Donald Trump convened his meeting of tech leaders, there was a conspicuous absence Wednesday at Trump Tower: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Mr. Trump’s use of the social media platform is renowned -- he has over 17 million followers and tweets news and opinions regularly.

Representatives from Twitter were not invited to Wednesday’s meeting with technology executives because the guest list was limited to senior executives from tech behemoths like Apple, Amazon and Google, Trump transition sources said.

In attendance were Apple’s Tim Cook, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, IBM’s Ginny Rommety, and Tesla’s Elon Musk, among others.

Twitter’s market capitalization is $13.5 billion, compared with $614 billion for Apple on the high end. The company present with the closest market capitalization was Tesla, at $32 billion, still well over twice Twitter’s size. 

“They simply were not big enough and do not have the economic viability of these companies,” a senior transition source told CBS News. 

Sean Spicer, a spokesperson for the transition, told MSNBC, “The conference table was only so big.”

President-elect Trump meets with top tech leaders

Politico reported the social media company had been “bounced” from the meeting because of a spat that arose over emojis and advertising dollars during the campaign. Using barnyard language, a Trump spokesman vehemently denied any connection.  Twitter was one of dozens of tech companies that did not receive an invitation to the meeting, the spokesman explained.

A Twitter spokesman would not comment on Politico’s report or on Mr. Trump’s meeting.

In the fall, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee (RNC) reached a deal with Twitter to spend $5 million on campaign advertising. As part of the agreement, Twitter promised to provide custom emjois for certain hashtags - icons that appear with a certain phrase. The deal hit a snag before the second presidential debate when Twitter initially approved and then objected to an emoji for the hashtag #crookedhillary that showed a running stick figure holding a moneybag.

Moneybag emoji designed by Trump campaign screenshot / Gary Coby, Trump campaign, via Medium

Twitter offered the Trump campaign and the RNC a discount on the ads and a chance to redesign the emoji. But on October 7th, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called Spicer to voice his objection to the new design (a moneybag with wings) and spike the emoji deal.

Moneybag with wings emoji designed by RNC and Twitter screen grab / Gary Coby, Trump campaign via Medium

Twitter said at the time, “We believe that political advertising merits a level of disclosure and transparency that branded political emojis do not meet, and we ultimately decided not to permit this particular format for any political advertising.” The social media platform released the same statement again Wednesday after Politico published its report but would not comment further. 
A person familiar with Twitter’s negotiations with the RNC offered no proof that Wednesday’s snub was retribution for the emoji flap, but said that tensions still remain.

Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel arranged the meeting with the president-elect and vice president-elect.