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SALT LAKE CITY — Silicon Slopes' annual summit, slated for next month, will feature one of the most prominent CEOs in the world and a Utah senator sharing the stage together.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will join Sen. Mike Lee for a "wide-ranging conversation" keynote fireside chat at the Salt Palace on Oct. 13, the nonprofit Utah tech organization Silicon Slopes announced Thursday. The Silicon Slopes Summit is a two-day annual business and tech conference that traditionally draws in more than 20,000 attendees every year.
"I have known and worked with my friend Tim Cook for years," Lee said in a statement Thursday. "Under his detailed and dedicated leadership, Apple is a hallmark of American growth and innovation. I was thrilled to invite him to this year's Silicon Slopes Summit, and I look forward to welcoming Mr. Cook and introducing him to the Utahns building the future of technology."
Apple officially launched iOS 15, its latest iPhone software, earlier this week. The California-based company also revealed its newest products, including the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7, during a conference on Sept. 14, and it is partnering with Utah in the rollout of digital driver's licenses and identification card technology.
Cook, meanwhile, has a couple of recent connections to Utah. He spoke at the LoveLoud Festival in Salt Lake City in 2018. Earlier this year, he also teamed up with Qualtrics founder and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, as well as Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to donate $4 million to Provo-based Encircle to help them create a national support network for LGBTQ youth, as noted by the Deseret News.
"Tim is one of the great technology leaders of this generation and we are thrilled to have his insights shared from our stage," said Clint Betts, executive director of Silicon Slopes, in a statement. "We know Tim has had a great relationship with many in the Utah business community, and are honored to have him play a key role in this event. We look forward to hearing his insights on the evolution and trends in tech, especially at a time when Utah's tech scene is growing at lightning speed."
While in Utah, Cook will also attend an Encircle fundraising dinner along with Smith and Reynolds, and their spouses, after his keynote appearance at the summit, according to Encircle. The event is to support the "$8 Million, 8 Houses'' campaign that was a part of the $4 million donation. The campaign aims to create eight new Encircle homes to help LGBTQ youth in Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.
The pairing with Lee at the tech summit may seem a bit of a surprise as the Utah senator and Apple have squared off a bit in recent history. In March, the Utah senator and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado, publicly questioned Cook and the CEOs of Google and Amazon over their decision to remove the social networking platform Parler —an app popular with conservatives — from the companies' respective stores following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Apple leadership responded a few weeks later, informing the lawmakers that they planned to reinstate the app because Parler ownership had fixed issues Apple had with compliance with the guidelines.
In February, he also made a push for stronger antitrust laws on tech giants like Apple. He accused the companies of making business difficult for new startups to succeed.
"As the leading Republican on the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee for the last decade, I have repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by Big Tech. But despite those warnings, our antitrust enforcers were asleep at the wheel while Silicon Valley transformed from a center of innovation into a center of acquisition," he said at the time. "Instead of competing to be the next Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon, today's tech startups are pushed by their private-equity backers to sell out to Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon."
Meanwhile, this year's conference, Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, is the fifth summit in its history. Previous speakers include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and baseball legend Alex Rodriguez. The conference this year will be held both in person in downtown Salt Lake City and virtually because of COVID-19 issues. Organizers said Thursday that they plan to work with health officials to ensure all recommended safety guidelines are in place for the in-person events.
Other events over the two days will focus on topics on current tech trends in fields like company culture, cryptocurrency, marketing and brands, product and design and more, according to the nonprofit.