CES chief defends invite for Ivanka Trump


The man in charge of next week’s giant CES tech expo has said that Ivanka Trump has done “great work” and will help it focus attendees’ minds on job-related issues for the future.

A decision to offer the US president’s daughter one of the show’s “keynote” sessions has caused controversy.

Critics have said other women with more expertise have failed to be granted lower-profile slots at the trade show.

But Gary Shapiro told the BBC that he did not regret the decision.

“There’s a lot of focus on jobs of the future, and certainly the keynote that I’ll be doing with Ivanka Trump will be focusing on… how industry is working with government on this very important issue,” he said.

He will interview Ms Trump – who serves as a jobs creation adviser to the president – when she appears on stage on Tuesday 7 January.

He declined, however, to say if her appearance had been his organisation’s idea or if the White House had requested the address.

‘Upset’ and ‘insulted’

The US Consumer Technology Association (CTA) confirmed Ms Trump would headline a discussion about “the path to the future of work” in a press release shortly before Christmas.

Over the following days hundreds of people tweeted objections to the announcement, often using the hashtag #BoycottCES.

“I was far from pleased at the news and the reason is certainly not found in my political beliefs,” blogged CES regular Carolina Milanesi from the tech consultancy Creative Strategies.

“The reason for my upset is rooted in the fact that there are many more women who are in tech and are entrepreneurs who could run circles around Trump on how technology will impact the future of work.”

Rachel Sklar, an entrepreneur who has campaigned for women to have more opportunities in the tech industry, added: “What an insult to the years and years of protesting how few women were invited to keynote… there are so many great, qualified women. Shame.”

The BBC sought comment from several of CES’s other featured speakers.

Only Mark Cuban, the entrepreneur and star of US TV series Shark Tank replied.

“I don’t care one way or another,” he said.

“No one has to go to her keynote if they don’t want to.”

For his part, Mr Shapiro suggested that Ms Trump had the credentials to warrant the honour.

In total, CES is scheduled to host eight keynote-branded events this year featuring external speakers. Nine of the speakers and moderators are men and eight are women, excluding CTA staff.

One session features both the US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and President Trump’s top technology advisor Michael Kratsios.