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:

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:

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.


About The Author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.