As Twitter And Snap Grapple With President Trump, Tech CEOs Mull Consequences Of A Public Political Stance

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Few companies have directly challenged President Trump or his administration in public. Box CEO Aaron Levie took a different approach: 'Our president has no ability to help this nation heal or chart a path forward.'

the move), Levie’s remarks spurred a mixed reaction on Twitter. Amid positive replies were others that criticized his statement; one person called it “counter productive.” Another who identified themselves as a Box investor replied: “U were doing good without mentioning our president. Agree with you or not, keep political views away from the company.”

Levie’s comment, and its response, highlights the line now being walked by CEOs of public tech companies who now must consider the risks and benefits of wading into political issues. Speak up, and you may upset some employees, customers and shareholders. Say nothing, and risk upsetting others who expect their leaders to clearly communicate their values. “It’s uncomfortable as a topic for many,” Levie tellsin an interview.

Levie boiled down the tweet to pure “frustration that we don't have a leader” taking steps to improve racial inequality. He says he has since received emails from employees, including some who are immigrants, who say they feel protected by the fact he voiced opposition to the President. As for shareholders, Levie says that taking a stance should only embolden confidence in his company.

Snap and its CEO Evan Spiegel might be the next big tech firm to face consequences for publicly — if obliquely — protesting President Trump’s remarks. After Spiegelfor the creation of a reparations commission in a letter to employees over the weekend, Snap went further on Wednesday with its decision to cease promotion of the President’s account.

Facebook and Twitter have faced their own challenges for corporate decisions regarding the President even without direct public statements by their CEOs. Twitter’s appendage of a fact-checking note to a tweet by Trump that included the comment “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” has drawn direct ire from the President and his supporters.

 

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