Less than a week before the 2016 presidential election, when most media observers thought Hillary Clinton was a lock to win, Elon Musk called CNBC and unloaded on Donald Trump. “He doesn't seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States,” he said.
In the three months since Trump's surprise victory, Musk has changed course, becoming something of an ally to Trump. When the then president-elect held a tech summit in December, Musk agreed to attend. He wasn’t the only one. Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and others joined him at the table. But they didn’t agree to a larger role advising the Trump administration as did Musk, who has met with the president and his team more than any other tech industry leader, save for Peter Thiel.
Last weekend, after Trump signed an executive order barring Syrian refugees from the United States, along with refugees and citizens from six other Muslim-majority nations, several tech leaders released statements of opposition, if not outrage.
Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder who first came to America as a refugee, attended a protest at San Francisco International Airport, and spoke at a mass walk-out by more than 2000 Google employees on Monday. “I came here to the U.S. at age 6 with my family from the Soviet Union, which was at that time the greatest enemy the U.S. had,” he said. “[Even] under the threat of nuclear annihilation ... the U.S. had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees.”