Rick White

CEO, TechNet

In the increasingly vital intersection of technology and public policy, Rick White, the new chief executive of the Silicon Valley-based lobbying organization TechNet, will play an important role.

White, a Republican, represented suburban Seattle in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998. His presence gives TechNet the cachet it needs to matter on Capitol Hill, a byzantine world of whispered deals and inscrutable chess moves that takes years of close study -- or a tour of duty in Congress -- to understand and effectively navigate.

The ascendancy of White to the head-honcho position shows that Silicon Valley is beginning to "get it" when it comes to politics -- that politics and the bottom line are intertwined.

TechNet is a bipartisan network of senior executives representing a broad swath of the technology industry, from corporate leaders to law partners to venture capitalists. The organizations decidedly hopeful -- even naïve -- slogan: "New Politics for a New Economy."

A smattering of TechNet executives were big boosters of President George W. Bush. They included Jim Barksdale, former president and CEO of Netscape Communications, and Floyd Kvamme, a prominent partner at the storied high-tech venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Thus, Bush is likely to turn to TechNet for advice as he crafts public policy.

White, who worked well with both Democrats and Republicans, will be working the aisles again in his new incarnation, calling on politicians of every stripe to get tech religion and vote Net-friendly.