Why Elon Musk's Inclusion in Trump's Tech Summit Matters

By Daniel Sparks Markets Fool.com

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and President-elect Donald Trump don't exactly see eye to eye. The two clash strongly in one particular area: global warming. Trump has openly disagreed with global warming and Musk has embarked on an ambitious vision to help put an end to it. The election of Trump to president, therefore, has prompted some uncertainty surrounding how the presidency will impact Tesla, which aims to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy by building and selling electric cars, energy storage, and solar products.

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Elon Musk. Image source: Tesla Motors.

But Musk may have been encouraged recently when he was invited to President-elect Donald Trump's Tech Summit in New York City at Trump Tower.

Musk goes to Trump Tower

The invitations for Trump's Tech Summit went out earlier this month to executives of major tech companies. Beyond Musk, attendees of the event this week included prominent names like Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and Intel's Brian Krzanich. With less than a dozen tech leaders attending, invitations were scant, limited only to the tech elite.

"I won't tell you the hundreds of calls we've had asking to come to this meeting," said Trump in his opening remarks.

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Based on the sentiment expressed by Trump in the short portion of the meeting made public, the future President said he wanted to help things go smoothly for the companies represented.

I want to add that I'm here to help you folks do well. ... we want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There's nobody like you in the world. ... And, anything we can do to help this go along, and we're going to be there for you. You'll call my people. You'll call me, it doesn't make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here. We're going to do fair trade deals, we're going to make it a lot easier for you to trade.

As Electrek pointed out, Musk's inclusion in the tech summit meeting is particularly notable considering the visionary entrepreneur is the only one leading a company with a market capitalization below $150 billion. Tesla is currently valued at about $32 billion, and Musk's privately held SpaceX's recent funding valued the company at about $15 billion. So Musk is arguably lucky to be able to represent his companies.

And Musk apparently received some special attention. Notably, Trump's transition team's communication director Jason Miller said Apple's Cook and Musk were going to stick around after the tech summit event for a private meeting with Trump, according to AppleInsider.

Musk has also been honored with a spot on Trump's Strategic and Policy forum. A press release about the forum says it includes "some of America's most highly respected and successful business leaders" who "will be called upon to meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda." Musk, as well as Uber's Travis Kalanick and Pepsi's Indra Nooyi were added to the forum a few weeks after the Trump administration announced 16 other names, including influential business leaders like JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon and Walt Disney's Bob Iger.

What Musk and Trump have in common

If the only remarks from Musk during the meeting at Trump Tower were any indication of the foot the CEO plans to put forward with the president, Musk seems like he wants to emphasize Tesla's vision for manufacturing job growth in the U.S. -- an area Trump has said he will focus on.

Tesla factory in Fremont, CA. Image source: The Motley Fool.

"Building rockets and cars and solar stuff in the U.S. -- actually really excited about expanding our manufacturing footprint in the U.S.," Musk said when he introduced himself at the meeting.

Tesla alone has created about 30,000 jobs, most of which are in the U.S. and are manufacturing related. And Tesla also recently announced an expansion to its car factory in Fremont, California, and said it plans to add another 3,000 jobs there. Going further, the company plans to eventually employ about 9,000 people at its under-construction battery factory in Nevada and 1,000 people at its solar-panel factory in Buffalo, New York. Further, Tesla has inspired auto, defense, and solar companies all over the world to step up their games.

With Trump clearly willing to give Musk his ear, and considering Musk's important role in U.S. manufacturing job creation, Musk's companies are off to a good start with the president-elect.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Tesla Motors, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook, PepsiCo, Tesla Motors, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.