Obama Talks Innovation, Stumps for Donations During Doerr Dinner

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-02-18 Print this article Print

Oh what I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall at this meeting of the President Barack Obama and high-tech heavyweights at Google board member and KPCB rock start investor John Doerr's home Feb. 17.

President Obama was joined by Doerr and other Silicon Valley superstars, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google
  • Steve Jobs, chairman and CEO, Apple
  • Carol Bartz, president and CEO, Yahoo
  • Mark Zuckerberg, founder, president and CEO, Facebook
  • John Chambers, CEO and chairman, Cisco Systems
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO, Oracle
  • Reed Hastings, CEO, NetFlix
  • John Hennessy, president, Stanford University
  • Art Levinson, chairman and former CEO, Genentech
  • Steve Westly, managing partner and founder, Westly Group

Was Obama stumping for cash and support for his re-election campaign, or ginning up support for innovation in tech?

Probably both, but the official, politic answer, according to what White House press secretary Jay Carney told the Chronicle, the group talked about ways to invest in innovation and how to increase jobs in the private sector.

Unofficially, my guess is Obama didn't have a hard sell on rallying support for tech or seeding campaign donors.

As the Chronicle noted, many of the guests have worked with Obama on key issues.

Moreover, 10 of Obama's guests donated more than $900,000 to Obama and candidates for Congress in the past decade, according to the non-profit MAPLight.org research group.

These high-profile execs and investors are largely Obama cheerleaders, loaded with cash, and super concerned with the state of high-tech jobs in the U.S.

Innovation is happening, to be sure. Just ask anyone who attended last month's Consumer Electronics Show and the recently-wrapped Mobile World Congress.

But to a man (and Bartz), these folks would likely argue that U.S. tech companies and Congress need to provide some stimulus to keep talented engineers from going abroad, which has been a problem vexing high-tech companies for years.

Network neutrality -- getting the company sufficiently wired without incurring too much financial strain on either carriers or consumers who can't afford it -- was also likely an area of concern. Google and other Internet companies consistently argue this.

U.S. tech is in solid shape, but there is always more to be done, especially with research and development. That's how I characterize the meat of the Obama dinner with Doerr and friends (without the benefit of actually being a fly).

One thing a lot of us wondered about is how Apple's Jobs looked, particularly after he took his third medical leave of absence from day-to-day operations at his company and was receiving treatment for cancer in the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

The Next Web offered these pics.

For someone who allegedly looks deathly ill, Jobs looks pretty good. That is, I think more is being made of his health than there is hard evidence to support the speculation.

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