Google is getting more political these days. Yesterday I wrote about the company’s lobbying efforts on behalf of its paid search deal with Yahoo, which isn’t necessarily “political,” but arguably a political necessary. Also yesterday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt decided to endorse (and later campaign with) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The company issued a statement that it, as an entity, remains neutral and that this is a personal decision on the part of private citizen Schmidt.
Yet the world will probably see this as a Google endorsement because it’s being made by Google’s CEO. Schmidt has been a technology adviser to the Obama campaign and, according to the Wall Street Journal, he describes his personal decision to endorse as a “natural evolution” of that role.
The article also reports the following about campaign contributions to both candidates:
Google employees have contributed $487,355 to Sen. Obama’s campaign and $20,600 to Sen. McCain’s as of Aug. 31. Mr. Schmidt hasn’t donated to either.
Google, the company, previously came out against California’s anti-Gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.
Although an Obama victory on November 4 is looking likely, there are those that think Schmidt’s decision to endorse Obama is foolish because the possibility remains that McCain could still emerge victorious on November 5.
Obama has vowed to create a “CTO” post in government — a kind of technology czar — and the WSJ speculates that Schmidt might be stepping up his efforts because he’s interested in that position. Assuming that Obama wins and he were to offer Schmidt the role, would Schmidt take it and resign his job at Google? There are many “ifs” there but the scenario is not entirely speculative.
For his part, Schmidt has said he’s happy and busy at Google.
On the other side of the political divide, eBay’s former CEO Meg Whitman and HP’s former CEO Carly Fiorina are both officials in the McCain campaign. In fact, McCain mentioned Whitman in the second U.S. presidential debate as a possible Treasury secretary. She’s also a rumored potential California gubernatorial candidate.