Hillary Clinton has a message for Silicon Valley: I feel your pain.
On Thursday, the 2016 presidential candidate and former secretary of state met with the CEOs of Airbnb, Box, Lyft, Instacart, and several other tech companies. The meeting took place at the San Francisco offices of Munchery, the on-demand meal-delivery service. The press was not invited, but participants were told they were free to post about it on social media (as Munchery CEO Tri Tran already has). Clinton's chief technology officer, Stephanie Hannon, was present as well, as was Rachel Whetstone, Uber's senior vice president of policy and communications.
Kevin Gibbon, CEO of the parcel-sending service Shyp, said Clinton made a point of listening rather than offering opinions. "She just wanted to learn a lot," he said following the get-together. "It was like,'What are you guys' thoughts? How can we make your life easier?'"
The main topic of the conversation was classification of workers by on-demand companies that have large, flexible work forces. Earlier this summer, Clinton gave a speech that was widely interpreted as a warning shot against companies that classify their workers as 1099 contractors to avoid paying Social Security taxes and other costs associated with W-2 employees.
Gibbon came away from Thursday's meeting with an impression that Clinton doesn't view the on-demand sector as broadly having abusive labor practices, however. "It's a really tough job to be in, but I think she is definitely, and I think Bill was, too, pro-technology and pro-innovation," he said. "She talked a lot about what government involvement in innovation should be."
One thing Clinton and the CEOs discussed was the government's decision, under the Bill Clinton administration, to leave the internet largely unregulated. All present agreed that was a good call, according to Gibbon. "Overall, it's created a lot more jobs and economic improvement than it's causing harm."