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Facebook's pop-up location last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

While tech leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, had U.S.-China tensions top of mind, they also came looking to push their perspectives on climate change, antitrust and regulation of artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: Whereas once tech leaders were given a free pass (literally and figuratively) as the young darlings of Davos, they are now established leaders with heightened roles — and sharper scrutiny.

Climate concerns were front and center for Microsoft, which last week announced its plan to be carbon-negative by 2030, as well as Salesforce.

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was pushing the World Economic Forum's 1 Trillion Trees initiative, and even managed to get the Trump Administration committed.

Driving the news: How artificial intelligence should be regulated was also a big topic in Davos, though companies' agendas varied.

  • IBM called for "targeted regulation" of AI. CEO Ginni Rometty was quick to point out that the company wants to see legislation focused on how specific technologies are used, rather than blanket bans, like Europe is considering for public use of facial recognition.
  • Google issued a broader call for regulation, including support for a temporary ban on facial recognition.
  • While other companies sought to make nice with critics, Palantir CEO Alex Karp vigorously defended his company's work with the U.S. government — including immigration agencies — in an interview with CNBC.

Meanwhile: Those were just the public pronouncements. Tech leaders spent much of Davos behind closed doors, meeting with top officials from around the world.

  • About three dozen of the tech leaders met with President Trump on Wednesday, though the discussion focused largely on the friendly turf of workforce training, with Apple's Tim Cook and IBM's Rometty delivering remarks.
  • Tech leaders also met privately with top officials from Europe, which is seen as taking the lead on regulation.

And then there were all the pop-ups.

  • The street outside the Congress Centre, known as the Promenade, was taken over by tech companies, who paid to commandeer the town's shops for the week in an effort to seem warm and fuzzy.
  • That was good news if you wanted branded lip balm or free food, but bad news if you wanted to see any remnants of the cute ski town.
  • Facebook threw its storefront open to highlight its platform security work, share a host of feel-good stories and demo its Oculus VR systems. Microsoft was demoing Hololens and serving up a yummy Thai curry. Surprisingly, Google's pop-up was open only to those with an appointment.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

DOJ cites discrimination in lawsuit against Texas over voting districts

Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers remarks at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Nov. 15, 2021. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and "again.. diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

2 hours ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.