A little more than a month after Donald Trump had announced his bid for president of the United States of America, Gary Shapiro did not like what he saw.
The president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association -- the organization behind the massive Consumer Electronics Show, which will hold its 50th anniversary celebration next month in Las Vegas -- penned a note articulating his misgivings about Trump last July. He called on the candidate to exit the race.
"I will not hold meetings at or visit any Trump property or even watch any Trump TV show until he drops out of the presidential race and apologizes to those he slandered," said Shapiro in a post published on Medium. "As Americans, we can each make a decision to do our part to remove Trump and his racism and inanity from the important political discourse our nation needs in a presidential campaign."
Now, a little more than a month after Trump's election, Shapiro is singing quite a different tune.
"What we've already learned with Mr. Trump is that you have to understand that when he speaks, if you take him too literally you're going to miss the points he's trying to make," Shapiro told Inc. in a recent interview. "And the point he's trying to make is that he wants to do what's best for this country."
It's quite the 180-degree turn. Though the CTA did not endorse any candidate, Shapiro personally threw his weight behind Marco Rubio, arguing that the Republican senator from Florida could do the most to support the growth of the tech industry.
Speaking with this reporter in March, Shapiro called Trump a "scary" option for tech. Trump's pronouncements departed from Silicon Valley consensus on social issues, while on a business level Trump made numerous comments that indicated he could hurt the industry, Shapiro said.
In particular, Trump called for a boycott of Apple; he was highly critical of Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos; his campaign was filled with anti-free-trade rhetoric; and he flip-flopped on his stance regarding the H-1B visas that are used by many companies to bring over talented tech workers. Additionally, Trump did not detail any specific platform regarding technology and Silicon Valley as an industry, Shapiro said.
"It's not that everyone is clamoring behind a specific candidate -- it's that they are clamoring around the fact that Trump is unacceptable," Shapiro said while speaking for an article analyzing which candidate the tech industry might put its support behind. "We're friends because we hate the same people."
Yet Shapiro's views on the matters have drastically shifted. Earlier this month, the CTA CEO published a Medium piece detailing reasons for optimism behind a Trump presidency, arguing that the president-elect will be good for job creation and that a Trump plan for infrastructure investment could bring numerous benefits to the tech industry, among other factors.
Asked specifically about international trade relations -- which Trump spoke of in negative terms throughout his campaign, criticizing and deriding the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and globalization in general -- Shapiro also expressed optimism. This matter is of particular importance to the CTA seeing as so many of the organization's participating companies and guests at CES come from outside the U.S. -- Shapiro said about 50,000 guests at the show will be foreign.
Trump "is not against trade. He just wants a trade deal that's good for the American people, and that's not too different from prior presidents," said Shapiro, citing comments made this month by Trump senior advisor Anthony Scaramucci.
That Trump still hasn't taken any clear cut positions on issues of concern to the tech industry is also no longer a cause of concern to Shapiro.
"The fact that he doesn't have a highly developed technology platform yet is not something that concerns me," Shapiro said, "because he wants what's best for America, and he's putting people in place who are going to listen."