It sounds like perhaps the coolest title any American entrepreneur could have: Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America. And it turns out, the job is open.
The White House announced today that Aneesh Chopra, the first person to hold the post, is stepping down. While it hasn't been the most high-profile position in the past, it might make great sense for the administration to pick a replacement who would bring a history of entrepreneurial success---and frankly, a big name---to the job.
Here's the thing: America needs jobs, and all net job growth in this country comes from new ventures. Technology, in turn, is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. So while everyone on our list by definition has many other options, there's something to be said for the notion that when the President of the United States calls and asks for your help, you say yes.
Here are 10 candidates whose phones should be buzzing:
- Sergey Brin, co-founder, Google. It'd be hard to find a more experienced, savvy tech guy than Brin, whose doctoral project at Stanford has evolved into one of the giants of U.S. commerce and world identity. Moreover, the Russian-born Brin is one of the great American immigrant success stories.
- Reid Hoffman, founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn. An early investor at Facebook and Zynga, and part of the so-called PayPal Mafia, the man knows how to pick winners.
- Fred Smith, founder, president, chairman and CEO of FedEx. Smith built FedEx from the ground up, and picking him would demonstrate that technology isn't just about Silicon Valley. A former Marine, he's got a history of public service to the nation to draw on. Also, he'd be a bipartisan pick---a Republican who was active in Sen. John McCain's campaign in 2008.
- William Sahlman, professor, Harvard Business School. The guru of entrepreneurial finance at Harvard Business School, Sahlman is one of the fathers of a curriculum that in turn helped launched hundreds of HBS alumni startups.
- Tom Byers, professor, Stanford University. Byers is also the co-Director of Stanford Technology Venture Partners. He is a well-connected leader in the Silicon Valley eco-system and a thoughtful, forward-looking visionary.
- Frank Moss, former director of the MIT Media Lab. The MIT Media lab has been a hotbed of innovation for decades, researching, developing and helping to commercialize some of the most sophisticated technologies around. Moss has an insider’s understanding of promising new technology, and the experience of having helped realize its potential.
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Credited with having been the person who transformed Facebook from a company focused on just making a really cool website, into one that focused on profitability. Previously she was Vice President of Global Online Sales at Google. She has a history of public service, having served as chief of staff for former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers during the Clinton administration.
- Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet Evangelist at Google. Reputed to have been among the people Obama considered for the CTO of the USA job in 2008, Cerf is a computer scientist and one of the few people who can legitimately claim to have invented the Internet. He was a project manager at DARPA in the 1980s.
- Gilman Louie, partner at Alsop Louie Ventures. Currently a venture capitalist, Louie previously ran the CIA's strategic venture capital fund. Who better to understand all the top-secret technological wonders under development, and how to best deploy them for the government.
- Ann Winblad, Partner at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. Winblad is a technology visionary, with special expertise in software. Over a 30 year career she has worked as a developer, executive, and influential investor. Some of the most important software and computer experts in the world listen very closely to Winblad’s analysis and vision.
That’s our list of initial candidates. Who is on your list?