Trump’s IT Roundtable
This is not exactly a new Camelot, nor is Donald Trump simply trying to beg these cyber tycoons for more jobs in the US, as Obama did a few years ago. This looks like a board meeting at a large corporation. In fact, in my opinion, this symbolizes Trump’s attempt to acknowledge the incorporation of the major new force and constituency in the current American power of state (or state power).
US State Power
What is state power? It is a formal term for what I often refer to as the Order. In a nominally democratic society, we may put on an elaborate show to demonstrate and convince the public that power and their government belong to the people. We elect a President. But he is an employee, albeit more like a CEO. A CEO must gain the support of the Board, may even head up its Executive Committee. But this Board is an invisible and substantially informal one comprised of members who own and/or hold decisive stakes in the wealth and strategic resources necessary to uphold and preserve the Order. They function as the overseers of the power of state, which must in turn protect their interests and endeavors. Of course these people are not democratically elected. They are not formally acknowledged as having the power and influence. But in reality they do, and would rather stay behind the scene. At this point in our history, they are deeply divided even among themselves.
The Evolving “Order”
The Order needs to evolve and be reconstituted from time to time as socio-political reality changes. Simplistically speaking, our old Order was comprised of three main pieces. They were the military-industrial complex (the old 1.0 version), Big Oil, and Wall Street. Over the last decade, however, Big Oil has more or less declined in significance. Our military-industrial complex 1.0 had become so bloated, over-consuming and often malperforming that it is perceived to be a net liability to the overall function of state power. Meanwhile, power on Wall Street was being accrued to those who make or manage principal investments, instead of those who play the traditional roles of financial institutions.
The New Cyber Barons
In recent years, by far the most stunning real-world change in the balance of power had come from “outside” the old Order. And that is the rise of what I would call, informally, the new Cyber Barons. For a host of reasons, they were not formally acknowledged as members of the Order, until now. In a large measure, they have fought their way in. During the last decade, they provided vital services and products to the machinery of American state power including, but not limited to, the military’s new cyber-arsenal, the NSA, FBI and CIA. They also comprised a major share of Wall Street’s cutting-edge businesses of principal investment and mergers and acquisitions. In addition, they hold the key to the dissemination of information and disinformation in societies, in essence displacing the old establishment media’s monopoly over the brain-washing of the masses.
Here’s My Show-and-Tell:
Let’s look at the roster of this meeting with Trump. From the private sectors, they represented companies with a total market value of US $ 2.9 trillion, according to one estimate. (Twitter’s Jack Dorsey was not invited because the company is not “big enough yet” and its growth has slowed, but I am sure Donald will personally take care of him, through constant high-frequency usage of the Company’s service platform.)
If you take Trump’s side of the table as East, then his White House team occupy the 3 center seats on the East and West sides, his economic policy team of Gary Cohn, Wilbur Ross and Steven Miller is on the South end.
(1) Oops! A Family Business?
Rounding out his team, on the North end of the table, are … Oops … Ivana’s children!
Together with Jared Kushner sitting opposite Trump on the West side as part of the White House, we have the look of a family business, no matter how you cut it.
(2) The King-Makers
Look at this picture. Remember this man on Trump’s left, Peter Thiel. He, and a guy on the opposite side, Steve Bannon, are Trump’s key king-makers. Thiel not only brought money, but the support of the new cyber-media and electoral weaponry. Bannon devised the pinpoint accurate schemes that brought the margins of victory in the key swing states. Both are conversant on Wall Street and new IT businesses. Read about the Paypal Mafia below also and you can expect Peter Thiel to play a big role in the Trump team.
(3) The Majority Were Anti-Trump
Ironically, the majority of these IT giants did not support Trump in the election. Google (cut it out with that Alphabet stuff, we know you want to own the world) practically owns Hillary Clinton. Jeff Bezos was very vocal in his opposition of Trump.
Looking at the rest, they are giants that are becoming jaded – IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, even Apple … None of them would have thought they would be here with Trump. They must feel that they were summoned as the old establishment, about to have to give room to the new kids of the hyper-valuation universe. Look at Tim Cook’s face, he was sucking a lemon?:
(4) Beware of the PayPal Mafia
The newer players, with the exception of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, are part of the so-called PayPal Mafia. Peter Thiel of Clarium Capital (and everything else since Paypal), Elon Musk of Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla and Alex Karp of Plantir are the triumvirate present at the Trump meeting. Plantir is a mysterious company with a $20 billion valuation (whatever that means) that nobody knows exactly what it does, except that it is a Big Data company with the CIA and FBI as its main customers and … ok, ok, we don’t want to know. It is also a venture capital investor, and Peter Thiel is a founder … ok, ok, you can go in, no sweat.
Zuckerberg is keeping a safe distance from Trump. He sent his CEO Sheryl Sandberg instead. Mark is eyeing up the China market and very nimbly avoids associating with a Donald Trump who has been mouthing off at his future host. Smart kid.
Hopefully, this will give you an idea of some of the new pieces in the Order.