Business leaders across all sectors are reacting to Saturday’s news that former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the presidential election, hailing an end to the divisiveness and praising the character of the next commander-in-chief — while acknowledging the struggles ahead.
“Unity, empathy, and decency are not characteristics of a bygone era,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has had his share of disputes with Trump, wrote on Instagram. “Congratulations President-elect @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris. By voting in record numbers, the American people proved again that our democracy is strong.”
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase echoed that sentiment, saying in a statement, “Now is a time for unity,” and calling for Americans to come together and move forward with the outcome after Trump refused to concede.
“We must respect the results of the U.S. presidential election and, as we have with every election, honor the decision of the voters and support a peaceful transition of power,” Dimon said.
In 2018, Dimon received some sharp backlash from Trump after he claimed that he could defeat the president if he chose to run.
Other business leaders, including Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, focused on the immense task of beating back the coronavirus.
“Congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their victory,” Solomon said in a statement. “We are ready to engage as they confront the important challenges of tackling the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.”
Gates tweeted that he looks “forward to working with the new administration and leaders on both sides in Congress on getting the surging pandemic under control” following his numerous criticisms of the Trump administration’s response.
Gates told The Wall Street Journal this year that he had warned Trump as early as 2016 that the country could face a pandemic.
Krishna of IBM offered advice on behalf of his company in a letter addressed to Biden, with one piece also aimed at the president-elect’s coronavirus response plan.
“As you convene a Covid-19 task force, we recommend that your administration also establish a Scientific Readiness Reserve — a body of scientists and computing resources from the private sector that can be swiftly mobilized in times of crisis,” Krishna advised, saying IBM has already “laid some groundwork” to advance research into treatments for the coronavirus.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not commented publicly about the election results. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, chose to highlight what Harris’ win means for the U.S.
“There are times when America takes a big step toward creating a government that reflects the diverse country we are,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post. “Today is one of those days. I’m thinking with joy about young people across the country watching the news today and thinking, ‘Maybe I can lead this nation too.'”
The Business Roundtable also congratulated the incoming administration, saying, “In the days ahead, it is critical that we move forward together to strengthen our country. As we enter another period of closely divided government, we call on elected officials and Americans across the political spectrum to work in good faith to find common ground. Our country faces great challenges in the months ahead to defeat the pandemic and rebuild our economy. We will meet them only by working together.”
Trump has often frustrated executives with his rash implementation of tariffs and boycotts, some of which came without any internal review by government lawyers or his own staff.