Friday, February 18, 2011

President Obama's Dinner With Digital Glitterati

In California, talking the economics of innovation while wining & dining the masters of the e-universe...
UPDATE: The Pastry Chef dishes on the dinner
President Obama flew to Northern California on Thursday for a private dinner at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife Ann. The guest list included eleven technology titans, many of whom became billionaires after creating companies whose names are now verbs: Google, Twitter, Facebook. At the two-hour dinner, President Obama sat between Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (above).

The Doerr home is in the exclusive neighborhood of Woodside, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, where many of Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs live. It has gated homes set on vast acreages, hidden from view with massive pines and privacy greenery. The President arrived shortly after 7:00 PM, after being met on the tarmac at San Francisco airport by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

No Tweeting or Facebooking occurred at the two-hour dinner, which focused on the economy, innovation, STEM education, and entrepreneurship, according to Press Secretary Jay Carney, with the hope that the digital glitterati will ally themselves with the White House. Above: The President talks with Zuckerberg. Also pictured, left to right, are Carol Bartz, Yahoo! President and CEO; Art Levinson, Genentech Chairman and former CEO; Steve Westly, Founder and Managing Partner, The Westly Group; and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman and CEO of Google.

"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," Carney said.

The host, Doerr, is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and was a major fundraiser and adviser for the Obama campaign. Many of the guests have battled each other over software and platform issues. The President's dinner companions also included Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter; and Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO, Oracle; John Chambers, CEO and Chairman, Cisco Systems; Reed Hastings, CEO, NetFlix; John Hennessy, President, Stanford University.

"The President expressed his desire to continue a dialogue with the group to share new ideas so we can work as partners to promote growth and create good jobs in the United States," Carney said.

The group also discussed the importance of new investments in education and the new White House tech initiative Startup America, a partnership with the private sector aimed at supporting new startups and small businesses.

"There was also a lot of discussion about ways to encourage people to study science, technology, engineering and math, and to go into STEM fields," Carney said.

President Obama's tech tour continues on Friday, with a visit to Intel Corporation in Oregon, where he will tour the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility with CEO Paul Otellini.

ObFo on Twitter: @ObamaFoodorama

*Photos by Pete Souza/White House