John Doerr (left) and John Heilemann at Web 2.0
At the Web 2.0 conference, Kleiner-Perkins VC John Doerr recommended Sun cofounder Bill Joy or tech gadfly Danny Hillis for the position of the nation's chief technology officer, News.com's Rafe Needlman reports.
On his tech policy page, Obama says:
Obama will appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.
Doerr said the CTO's top priority will be energy.
The most important thing [is to] kick-start a huge amount of innovation and research in energy. We invest less than a billion dollars a year in energy, compared to $32 billion in health care. It's the challenge for the generation, it's the scourge of the economy.
And Doerr said that Obama needs to deal with science education and immigration.
I would create a specific program to double the number of engineers we graduate in the U.S. from 30,000 a year to 60,000. [Regarding foreign students who have to leave the country,] We should staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who graduates with a degree in the physical sciences in the U.S.
BusinessWeek dropped a few names for the CTO job, as well: Vint Cerf, Steve Ballmer and Jeff Bezos.
These, as well as Hillis and Joy, are ridiculous choices. The CTO job is a political job, a bureaucratic job. The person who succeeds in that job will be someone who can bring an entrepreneurial spirit into a government setting. They will have to familiar with the CTO positions at the whole range of federal agencies; they will have to know their way around Washington to some extent; they will know how to work with large, combative constituencies; and they will expect to be held accountable.
Ballmer and Bezos are right out. They have companies to run at critical junctures. Joy and Hillis are "mavericks"; meetings, presidential memoranda and the Office of Management and Budget are not their things. Cerf is at the right point in his career, knows Washington and had widespread respect, so that is a possible choice, but his leadership at ICANN suggests he is not the right man for the job.
While it's tempting to think of names from the industry, I think the likely candidate will be a state CTO who is committed to innovative technology, cutting through bureaucratic layers and understands government.