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Apple CEO urges workers to 'move forward together' postelection

Tim Cook tells his staff in a memo that, in spite of the "strong feelings" that follow the election, the only option is to keep on keeping on.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook is trying to steady rattled employees.

James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook is telling his company the only thing to do after Donald Trump's election is to keep pushing ahead "together."

"In a political contest where the candidates were so different and each received a similar number of popular votes, it's inevitable that the aftermath leaves many of you with strong feelings," he said Wednesday in a companywide memo.

"Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together."

The political divide is wide in the US: 49 percent of Republicans say the Democratic Party makes them "afraid," and 55 percent of Democrats say the same about the Republican Party, according to Pew Research from June.

Cook's memo addressed this division.

"Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world -- regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love," he wrote.

It's unclear what impact a Trump presidency will have on the technology sector. The president-elect hasn't exactly been friendly to Apple and others in Silicon Valley. Trump has said several times that he would force Apple to build its devices in the US, something that would upend Apple's manufacturing process. He also called for people to boycott Apple's products until the company helped the FBI unlock a phone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack. Apple had resisted the FBI's request, saying it wanted to protect the privacy of its users. The FBI ended up withdrawing its request for Apple's help in that case, but the issue is one that's sure to pop up again.

Worry about what a Trump presidency would mean for Silicon Valley caused many in tech to endorse Hillary Clinton. Apple didn't make public comments about the presidential race or run a political action committee, but Cook reportedly held a campaign fund-raiser for Clinton this summer. He had also hosted a fund-raiser for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. Cook, as one of tech's only openly gay CEOs, has made a big push for social justice and diversity (though Apple still has a long way to go in terms of its own diversity numbers).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a similarly measured response while watching the election results.

"I thought about all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children. This work is bigger than any presidency and progress does not move in a straight line," he said in a Facebook post.

Others in Silicon Valley haven't reacted so calmly. Airbnb and Uber investor Shervin Pishevar said he wants California to withdraw from the United States and become its own nation.

Here's the full text of Cook's memo.

Team,

I've heard from many of you today about the presidential election. In a political contest where the candidates were so different and each received a similar number of popular votes, it's inevitable that the aftermath leaves many of you with strong feelings.

We have a very diverse team of employees, including supporters of each of the candidates. Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together. I recall something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said 50 years ago: "If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." This advice is timeless, and a reminder that we only do great work and improve the world by moving forward.

While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple's North Star hasn't changed. Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world -- regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love.

I've always looked at Apple as one big family and I encourage you to reach out to your co-workers if they are feeling anxious.

Let's move forward -- together!

Best,

Tim

First published November 10, 7:11 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:00 p.m.: Adds full memo and background information.