Sean Garrett of 463 Communications wants to know where the Washington tech leadership has gone. In an intriguing post, Garrett gives the proper chops to John Doerr, John Chambers, Jim Barksdale, Reed Hastings, Craig Barrett and others for their pioneering work over the last decade in bringing the Valley's voice to Capitol Hill.
But, he asks: Who is doing this in 2008? With a few exceptions, it's pretty much the same people. That's a good thing when considering how well Doerr, Chambers and Barrett do when evocatively connecting the dots between sound policy and innovation that benefits society at large. But, it's also a bad thing when you consider that a whole lot of companies have grown up and a lot of executives have made their marks since then without a contribution to the policy dialogue.
The Valley bigwigs, Garrett notes, have hired staff in Washington, laid out the big bucks for lobbyists and used various trade associations as surrogates. Prior to this development, Garrett writes, there were many more public forums in Silicon Valley that revolved around policy issues. Without the DC apparatus in place, executives needed to do the work themselves in talking about a bad piece of legislation. Media covered this in the Valley. Events were held to take advantage of this. People paid attention. They then got involved.
Now they don't. That's a shame as the tech policy situation in Washington is already moribund enough.