Obama to Silicon Valley: A Side of Innovation Please?


Steve Jobs and several other tech industry leaders, including Google’s (s goog) Eric Schmidt and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, met last night with President Obama at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr outside of San Francisco. Subjects of discussion at the meeting included technological innovation and private sector job growth.

The official word on what was discussed at the meeting came from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney immediately following the event:

The President believes that American companies like these have been leading by investing in the creativity and ingenuity of the American people, creating cutting-edge new technologies and promoting new ways to communicate. The President specifically discussed his proposals to invest in research and development and expand incentives for companies to grow and hire, along with his goal of doubling exports over five years to support millions of American jobs. The group also discussed the importance of new investments in education and the new White House initiative Startup America, a partnership with the private sector aimed at supporting new startups and small businesses.

No doubt Obama approached this particular group to seek guidance regarding growth and expansion because of the unique abilities demonstrated by Apple (s aapl), Google and others to continue to grow and operate profitably even during the peak of the recent recession. Apple’s Mac lineup of computers, for instance, outpaced industry growth for the past 19 quarters according to a report released yesterday.

Obama also seems keen to mimic the entrepreneurial spirit that has led to Silicon Valley’s role as an incubator of innovation and economic success. That the meeting took place at Doerr’s house indicates Obama is keen to learn from the startup economy (something made plain with the Startup America initiative), as well as from large, established tech firms.

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Remembering of-course, that Russia is making very fast plans to have it’s own Silicon Valley.
Good old fear still works as a motivator.

Nancy Munro

With the recent attention Obama has been giving to Silicon Valley and innovation, I found an interesting article from a Forbes columnist, Adam Hartung who posts the question “Would you Hire Steve Jobs” http://bit.ly/h27bfw where he states that the current global economy rewards leaders who are more innovative like Jobs but when you look at who is filling the seats of most CEO’s it’s the safer less innovative candidate. He even comments on what a poor choice Obama made w/ assigning Immelt to his recent position and not fully understanding what it truly means to be innovative.


hmm, did they happen to discuss the basic idea that these companies represent a tiny fraction of the entire job market and in fact employ a great number of non-domestic talent to “innovate”? (i see ellison and others with enormous overseas development operations)

Kevin Walsh

The president may not like what he heard. Innovation works best when failure is understood to be part of the equation. For every Google, Apple, Facebook, etc., there are dozens of failures. It’s a process of natural selection—finding out what works sometimes requires finding out what doesn’t work first.

The problem with Washington, et al, is that they presuppose they can pick winners and are reluctant to admit that some of their investments are fundamentally bad ideas. This reluctance compels them to prop up failures, thereby preventing the creative destruction that is a natural byproduct of venture-backed innovation.

The real ingredients to a self-reinforcing innovative ecosystem, such as what was once common in Silicon Valley and a few other innovative pockets are (a) risk capital, (b) risk takers, (c) an absence of government intrusion.


This president knows everything there is to know about failure as he’s the poster child for it.

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