Jan 25, 2020

How tech leaders used Davos this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

DAVOS, Switzerland — Tech leaders once were given a free pass (literally and figuratively) as the young darlings of Davos, but they're now the established leaders, with a heightened role as well as added scrutiny.

  • While U.S.-China tensions were high on tech leaders' list, they also came to push their points on climate change, antitrust and AI regulation.

The public pronouncements:

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was pushing the World Economic Forum's 1 Trillion Trees initiative, even managing to get the Trump Administration committed.
  • 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 with public use of facial recognition.
  • Google issued a broader call for regulation, including support for a temporary ban on facial recognition.
  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp defiantly defended his company's work with the U.S. government —including immigration agencies — in an interview with CNBC.

But tech leaders spent much of Davos behind closed doors, meeting with top officials from across the globe.

  • About three dozen tech executives 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 taking the lead when it comes to regulation.

Go deeper

How Big Tech used Davos in 2020

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.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Ginni Rometty out as IBM CEO

Photo: Mike Cohen/Getty Images for the New York Times

IBM announced that Arvind Krishna, who heads the company's cloud unit, will replace Ginni Rometty as CEO in April.

Why it matters: The move comes as a surprise, with Rometty having just recently held court in Davos, unveiling a new call for targeted AI regulation.

Deep Dive: World leaders in Davos walk the U.S.-China tightrope

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

DAVOS, Switzerland — The Trump administration is gearing up for a long-term confrontation with China, a rival viewed increasingly as an existential threat, but a week in Davos offers a stark reminder that the world is not prepared to line up behind it.

The big picture: There was a palpable sense of relief among the Davos crowd after the "phase one" trade deal reduced tensions between the U.S. and China.

Go deeperArrowJan 25, 2020 - World