WOODSIDE, Calif.–President Barack Obama, his entourage fighting through a driving rain and wind storm, visited the tiny hamlet of Woodside Feb. 17 for a dinner with the captains of the IT industry to talk mostly about job creation and education.
It was Obama’s eighth visit to the Bay Area and the first that didn’t involve political fund raising. It was a private meeting at the home of Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist John Doerr that allowed no interaction with members of the press.
The invited group of Silicon Valley executives included Doerr; Cisco Systems’ CEO John Chambers; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Stanford University President John Hennessy; Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; Oracle CEO Larry Ellison; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz; Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs; Genentech Chairman and former CEO Art Levinson; and venture capitalist Steve Westly.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini was also on the guest list. The White House said on Feb. 18 that Otellini will be named to a new panel of experts who will advise the president about jobs creation.
Otellini will join the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, created in January to focus on hiring and promoting growth, Reuters reported.
Following his overnight stay in the Bay Area, the president was to join Otellini in a tour of the Intel chip-making plant in Hillsboro, Ore.
Event a Rare Opportunity for Obama
The dinner event was a rare opportunity for the president to talk directly to several of the most influential business people in the world about his agenda to improve the nation’s employment rate and about innovation in the IT business.
“These are representatives of businesses who know a lot about private-sector job growth,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told a White House press briefing on Feb. 16.
Westly told the San Francisco Chronicle that Obama’s decision to schedule a discussion with the region’s movers and shakers shows he is committed to making the United States a leader in a new global economy — this generation’s “Sputnik moment,” as Obama said in his State of the Union address last month.
“He’s completely dialed in to education, innovation and green technology,” said Westly, a Bay Area venture capitalist and former state controller. “And the fact that he’s wanting to sit down with people here shows that he gets it. Everyone in California should feel good about his visit here.”
People lined the main street, Woodside Road, in the foothills town 30 miles south of San Francisco as the president’s motorcade passed through on its way to the hillside estate of Doerr and his wife, Ann, who have both been ranked among the country’s most generous political donors.
President Obama toasts a group of Silicon Valley executives, including Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (far left), Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers (fourth from left), Steve Jobs (to left of Obama), Mark Zuckerberg (right of Obama) and Larry Ellison (directly across from Obama). (White House photo)