Obama’s Silicon Valley “Tech Supper” – Who Sat Where? Why Was He There?

Why was he there? Who wasn’t invited and why? What did they talk about? Why was he really there?

These are the questions being debated this morning about Obama’s visit last night to the home (dare I say “lavish Woodside estate”) of tech investor and Google board member John Doerr. Stanford University President John Hennessy (also a Google board member) was present and so was Google CEO Eric Schmidt, but not incoming Google CEO Larry Page.

Who Was There?

Here’s the full list of attendees according to the NY Times, LA Times and SF Chronicle:

  • John Doerr, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Carol Bartz, president and CEO, Yahoo!
  • John Chambers, CEO and chairman, Cisco Systems
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO, Oracle
  • Reed Hastings, CEO, NetFlix
  • John Hennessy, president, Stanford University
  • Steve Jobs, chairman and CEO, Apple
  • Art Levinson, chairman and former CEO, Genentech
  • Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google
  • Steve Westly, managing partner and founder, Westly Group
  • Mark Zuckerberg, founder, president and CEO, Facebook

Who Sat Where?

Here’s our marked up version of the official White House photo (spotted via The Next Web), showing where everyone’s sitting:

Apple and Facebook get spots next to Obama. Twitter’s off to one side — as is Google and Yahoo. Maybe it’s reading too much into the picture, of course. And yes, our opening image is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a rare picture in a suit rather than his trademark hoodie.

Who Wasn’t There Who Might Have Been?

Who wasn’t there that might have been, ZDNet runs down the list:

  • Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM
  • Leo Apotheker, CEO of HP
  • Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
  • Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
  • Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com

Of those on the “not invited” list, Benioff and and Apotheker are “local” in Silicon Valley. Another important “local” not present is Intel CEO Paul Otellini. Otellini a past administration critic was recently appointed to President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The “agenda” and the money

The stated purpose of the visit was discussion of “innovation” and jobs creation with the leaders of the “new economy.” The cynics — Sarah Palin might call them “haters” — believe Obama was there to lay a foundation for his re-election campaign and line these folks up as donors.

The SF Chronicle produced a list of attendees and their past political contributions:

Chart: SF Chronicle, data MAPLight.org

The CEOs have their own issues they want to advance with the President. Among them are taxes, broadband policy, foreign worker visas, patent reform and a range of other issues. No one knows exactly what was discussed in the room because none of the dinner guests tweeted about it. But here’s one cartoonist’s version of what was said at the meeting.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Features: Analysis | Google: Business Issues | Microsoft: Business Issues | Twitter | Yahoo: Business Issues


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • BK

    I don’t know what was on the menu, but I’ll bet it wasn’t liver.

  • Bryan Ford

    Could ‘No Idea’ next to Eric Schmidt be his wife Wendy? Her name does appear in the list of contributors. Doesn’t look like Marissa Mayer, and she prefers a more colorful wardrobe usually.

    It does seem sad that even though there is a person of color in the Whitehouse hosting this lunch that there are so few women represented here – particularly as 50% of them is dismissed as ‘No Idea’.

  • http://www.hochmanconsultants.com/ Jonathan Hochman

    The mysterious blonde is probably Shari Thurrow.

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