WOODSIDE, California (Reuters) - Apple Inc.chief executive Steve Jobs, on medical leave from the company he co-founded, attended a meeting of technology industry leaders with U.S. President Barack Obama in northern California on Thursday.
Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, was joined by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and other members of the Silicon Valley elite for talks with Obama at a venture capitalist’s sprawling estate outside San Francisco.
Jobs, 55, a high-tech visionary who has come to embody Apple’s turbulent history and some of the industry’s most cutting-edge products, stepped away from the company on medical leave last month. It was the third time in seven years that he has taken time out because of health reasons.
Obama’s two-day West Coast visit was aimed at promoting technological innovation to help boost the struggling U.S. economy and reduce stubbornly high unemployment — considered crucial to his 2012 re-election chances.
Obama met with 12 leaders from technology companies and discussed ways to work together to invest in innovation and promote private sector job growth, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said after the meeting.
“The president specifically discussed his proposals to invest in research and development and expand incentives for companies to grow and hire, along with his goal of doubling exports over five years to support millions of American jobs,” Carney said.
“The group also discussed the importance of new investments in education,” Carney said, adding that Obama expressed a desire to keep the dialogue going.
The meeting was also part of Obama’s efforts to mend fences with the U.S. business community after his Democrats were routed in the November congressional elections, and garner support for a $3.7 trillion budget proposal released this week and already facing stiff Republican resistance.
The National Enquirer on Thursday published pictures that purported to show Jobs arriving at the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California.
A spokeswoman for Stanford Hospital declined to comment.
The company has refused to provide any details on Jobs’ health, comment on the recent reports or say when he might return from leave.
Shares of Apple closed down 1.3 percent in Thursday’s trading.
Jobs was not seen by a pool of White House reporters who were kept out of sight of participants at Thursday’s working dinner at venture capitalist John Doerr’s secluded home in the affluent suburb of Woodside. But a White House official confirmed that all those on the guest list were present.
Jobs had surgery in 2004 for an unusual type of tumor on his pancreas called a neuroendocrine tumor. He had a liver transplant in 2009.
Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook is running Apple’s day-to-day operations while Jobs is on leave.
Analysts noted that Jobs’ health problems are widely known by investors, who are not likely to be shocked by Internet reports.
“I find it puzzling that he would be on campus and ‘working’ from home if he was that sick,” said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies. “Seeing him go into a cancer treatment facility shouldn’t be a surprise.”
Jobs had been seen in recent weeks on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California. The company has said he will continue to be involved in major strategic decisions.
Known for his idiosyncratic style, Jobs rescued the computer maker from near death in 1996 after a 12-year absence from the company he co-founded.
The launch of the iPhone, a smartphone with a touchscreen in 2007, and the iPad, a tablet computer in 2010, forged new business lines for the company that created the personal computing category and helped lead the technology industry into new directions.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said ahead of Thursday’s meeting: “This is a part of our economy that has been a huge contributor to economic growth in the last several decades and we expect will continue to be.”
Other executives attending the meeting with Obama were: Carol Bartz, president of Yahoo!; John Chambers, chairman of Cisco Systems; Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter; Reed Hastings, CEO of NetFlix ; Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech; and Steve Westly, managing partner and founder of The Westly Group.
Obama will wrap up his trip on Friday with a visit to Hillsboro, Oregon, where Intel Corp CEO Paul Otellini will give him a tour of the company’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility.
Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dave Zimmerman and Jackie Frank