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Businesses Government IT

Silicon Valley Is Filling Up With Ex-Obama Staffers 211

HughPickens.com writes: Edward-Isaac Dovere reports in Politico that the fastest-growing chapter of the Obama alumni association is in Silicon Valley. For the people who helped get Obama elected and worked for him once he did, there's something about San Francisco and its environs that just feels right: the emphasis on youth and trying things that might fail, chasing that feeling of working for the underdog, and even using that word "disrupting" to describe what they do. "A lot of people who moved out here were present at the creation of the Obama '08 campaign," says Tommy Vietor. "There's a piece of them that wants to replicate that." Vietor left the White House two years ago, and he and his business partner, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, founded a communications strategy firm with a focus on speechwriting for tech and other start-ups. "If you're writing for a CEO out here, they're more likely to be your peer than your grandfather," says Vietor. "They're young, they're cool, they get it."

Other former Obama staffers who have come to Silicon Valley include former campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe at Uber, Kyle O'Connor at Nest, Semonti Stephens at Twitter; Mike Masserman, at Lyft; Brandon Lepow at Facebook; Nicole Isaac, at LinkedIn; Liz Jarvis-Shean at Civis; Jim Green and Vivek Kundra at Salesforce, Alex McPhillips at Google; Gillian Bergeron, at NextDoor; Natalie Foster at the Institute for the Future; Catherine Bracy at Code for America; Hallie Montoya Tansey at Target Labs. Nick Papas, John Baldo, Courtney O'Donnell and Clark Stevens at AirBnB, and Jessica Santillo at Uber.

There are so many former Obama staffers in the Bay Area that a recent visit by former White House senior adviser David Axelrod served as a reunion of sorts, with more than a dozen campaign and White House veterans gathering over lunch to discuss life after the administration. Obama himself rarely misses an opportunity to come to San Francisco. He says he loves the energy there, loves the people and according to Dovere, the city's ultra-liberal leanings mean he was greeted as a rock star even during the dark days before last year's midterms. Obama's even become friendly with Elon Musk. "There should be a welcome booth at the SFO airport," says Jon Carson, the former Organizing for Action executive director now at SolarCity.
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Silicon Valley Is Filling Up With Ex-Obama Staffers

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  • huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:17AM (#50052923)

    "They're young, they're cool, they get it."
    Translation: Fuck opportunity based on skill, this is a politically based system of finding the youngest possible candidates at the lowest price. If they are bandwagoneers, all the better.

    • Re:huh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday July 06, 2015 @09:02AM (#50053205) Homepage

      Look at what's happening in colleges and universities. You've got radical leftists and radical feminists pushing for racial quotas instead of merit. Even several universities have come out with their "meritocracy is a microaggression" bullshit. AKA University of California campuses. [ucop.edu] Surprise, those young, kids who want to be protected from everything...

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

        Look at what's happening in colleges and universities. You've got radical leftists and radical feminists pushing for racial quotas instead of merit. Even several universities have come out with their "meritocracy is a microaggression" bullshit. AKA University of California campuses. [ucop.edu] Surprise, those young, kids who want to be protected from everything...

        Holy canolli! That read was simultaneously hilarious and pathetic. As it turns out though, that kind of ultimate whining victimthink has been around on campuses for a long time. Like at least from the 60's

        In the end, you just write it off to whiny folk, at the far end of the spectrum, sort of like the liberal versions of Ted Cruz. Too far out to be taken seriously.

        • Re:huh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by operagost ( 62405 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @09:47AM (#50053611) Homepage Journal
          It's easy to write them off, but the fact is that we already have an affirmative action infrastructure in the USA, which could easily be adapted for every conceivable "protected class". Affirmative action should have been retired 15-20 years ago, once it had outlived its usefulness. Now, it remains as a dangerous tool of political manipulation.
          • It's easy to write them off, but the fact is that we already have an affirmative action infrastructure in the USA, which could easily be adapted for every conceivable "protected class".

            Somehow I doubt the microagression folks will gain much of a toehold. Way too far to the left, and catering to a demographic that I fear might have some basic human genetic parts missing. If they cannot handle any disagreement without calling it aggression against them, they are doomed to failure.

            It's roughly the same thing as the far right's litmus tests. You could be the most charismatic, most competent leader possible, but unless you toe the line. as in you must be anti-abortion, pro certain middle eas

            • The religious right have firm control of their party.

              Not really. They haven't gotten what they want from the party for quite some time. The Neocons are firmly in control these days. They are the ones that put up McCain, then Romney (eviscerating the Ron Paul wing in the process). Oh, they get a lot of play in the MSM (easy targets), but influence in the GOP - not so much.

              • The religious right have firm control of their party.

                Not really. They haven't gotten what they want from the party for quite some time.

                Are you seriously trying to say that a pro-choice candidate could ever get the Republican nod for president?

                You even see Republican presidential candidates, when asked if they believe in evolution, making a canned reply of "Well, I'm not a scientist", as if caving to a batshit insane idea of 4004 bce creation date is a possibility..

                The Neocons are firmly in control these days. They are the ones that put up McCain, then Romney (eviscerating the Ron Paul wing in the process).

                The Neocons, that trotskyist group that wants eternal war in the middle east - and has probably pretty much succeeded in entrenching us in it, are yet another group that has t

            • Problem with Goldwater was that with foreign policy he was an outright warmonger.

              • Liar. But obviously, the concept of "peace through strength" is too complex for you.
                • "Peace through strength" sounds like straight up Orwell double-speak from 1984, except it's not being used in a fictitious setting.

                  "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
                  "I could have ended the war in the month. I could have made Vietnam look like a mud puddle"
                  "You've got to forget about this civilian. Whenever you drop bombs, you're going to hit civilians."
                  "The only summit meeting that can succeed is the one that does not take place."

                  Domestically though, I think he'd have been better than Reagan.

                  • "Peace through strength" sounds like straight up Orwell double-speak from 1984, except it's not being used in a fictitious setting.

                    Orwellian might be more like war is peace. or making war for peace.

                    "Peace through Strength" sounds like a reasonable thing to me. I can't imagine having peace through weakness.

                    "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

                    "I could have ended the war in the month. I could have made Vietnam look like a mud puddle"

                    Exactly. One should never ever go to war unless one is prepared to win it. Limited warfare does not have a good track record.

                    "You've got to forget about this civilian. Whenever you drop b

              • Problem with Goldwater was that with foreign policy he was an outright warmonger.

                And the neocons are not? They make Goldwater look like the college kids putting daiseys in the rifle barrels of the national Guard soldiers.

          • Except that affirmative action has not yet succeeded in its goals. We have in no way reversed the centuries old system that was in place so that there's equality today. People only think there is equality because the law forbids slavery and discrimination in voting, and they think this is all that is needed. As long as we tell the underclasses that they're equals, they think, there is no need to actually make them equals. This is not just something from the distant past, we still have people with power

      • Haha read some of the offending quotes under Color Blindness. "I have a dream" would fit right in.
        • by Shortguy881 ( 2883333 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @10:30AM (#50053957)
          Lol, yeah after reading this the only option left is to not talk to someone that is a minority or a woman. Anything you say is a micro aggression.

          Here are some addendums:

          White men should not congregate together. Groups of white men send the message that women and minorities are not welcome.

          White men should not congregate with minorities or women. It trivializes their struggles and and makes it seem like you are patronizing them.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2015 @10:42AM (#50054039)

            It is simply anti-white politics. Racism never goes away, it is human nature. Instead it attack the group that peoples can get away with. And by excluding women, the professional victim, this will go on for a long time because men will not accept to plead victim-hood to make it stop.

            This is brilliant social engineering. There is no way out of this situation, the enemies of the West has already won.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Did you read the explanation in the column next to it? I sounds like you didn't.

          Saying colour is irrelevant trivializes or denies the problems associated with skin colour. It's really not hard to understand. Don't discriminate or generalize about skin colour, and don't deny that it's a problem in society.

        • I'm sorry...I just have to disagree with you there. I assume you are referring to Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech. I don't think he ever alludes to any of these messages in his speech: Assimilate to the dominant culture. Denying the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history. Denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down tog
      • Here's the interesting thing.
        Let me preface all this by saying my values generally agree with you. You should earn your living. You have no right to be better or more well off than someone else except if you are able to be of more service to the world and convince people to voluntarily pay you more money.

        That all said, these kids who want to be protected from everything and who want no responsibility for themselves. The ultra-feminists and ultra-leftists as many would point out. Well here's the thing. do we

    • yep (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2015 @09:12AM (#50053265)

      "young" used to be a gentle way to say "gullible", "ill-informed", "not yet experienced enough in life to exercise proper caution and restraint particularly when the lives, liberty, and property of others are concerned", etc.

      These hyper-political slimy freaks are going to where they will be most-comfortable: San Francisco - the home of American crypt-fascist corporate-politico evil where people are punished for not engaging in group-think, and engineering new ways to spy on, and manipulate, people for both corporations and politicians are the preferred way to get rich. The Bay Area and Team Obama deserve each other.

      This is how big business pays-off corrupt politicians and their staffs for all the political favors they gave while in power:

      Give 'em high-paid jobs they did not earn and are not qualified for

      Put them on the Board of a corporation, with stock options which they can then cash-out and get rich from (Apple and Al Gore ring any bells?)

      Line them up for access to some nice IPOs

    • Wow, you beat me to pointing out the most ear gratingly bad quote of the piece.

    • So basically the same hiring strategy as other parts of Silicon Valley.

      (although the article makes the erroneous assumption that Silicon Valley includes San Francisco)

  • Just great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sqreater ( 895148 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:29AM (#50052975)
    Watch them destroy silicon valley with political correctness and hyperliberalism.
    • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @09:52AM (#50053669)
      Reminds me of the adjacent story, "Harbingers of Failure".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, Obama staffers have a lot of experience at failure.

    Syria: Fail. The "JV" has taken over.
    Libya: Obama's exercise in failed "regime change" has left Libya more fucked up than what W did to Iraq. Why'd Obama depose Qaddafi again?
    Iraq: Yep, fail. Sending troops back in...
    Iran: About to surrender to crazed mullahs looking to get nukes. When the FRENCH call it a bad surrender...

    US labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in 40 years. Only jobs being created are all part-time. Under-employm

    • Libya: Obama's exercise in failed "regime change" has left Libya more fucked up than what W did to Iraq. Why'd Obama depose Qaddafi again?

      From my reading, that was actually Europe, mostly France and Italy. They were willing to push their agenda and get rid of Qaddafi, got Europe involved, and then realized that they couldn't carry out such a mission without NATO resources, which meant dragging in the US. I can't find real reference to it, but I suspect that Europe basically said "we supported you in Iraq, now you can support us in this" and we had to get involved in North Africa to scratch Europe's back. Notice that that was the NATO operatio

  • Lame duck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:32AM (#50052995)
    A couple of dozen people moving to SF hardly qualifies as "filling up " that area. But it does indicate what shape the Democratic party is in; these are the people who got Obama elected - now there's no place for them in Washington and especially no place for them in the Clinton machine.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:41AM (#50053047)

    Has everything to do with:

    1) Corporations' cozy relationship with politicians
    2) Ex-staffers promising companies inside info and access

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:49AM (#50053115) Journal
    It's common knowledge that Silicon Valley companies are hiring more and more lobbyists (especially ones that have a high need to change regulations, like Uber).
    Obama staffers make convenient lobbyists. They have connections.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @08:57AM (#50053173)

    When riding high on his popularity, he voted for the telecom immunity bill. If he'd voted against it, he'd have been able to walk into the debates like a rock star because he'd be one of the only big names who actually acted on his promises. Even many of his opponents would have given him props for sticking to his guns.

    Ironically, if Obama had done even half of what he promised to clean up the government, he could have asked for a Cuban-style health care system and his popularity would have made it impossible for the Republicans to stop him. We've reached the point where an honest politician with balls could practically control the federal government just by sheer force of the people's awe at his honesty.

    • by nazsco ( 695026 )

      sorry to break to you. but you're too much of an engineer to even begin to grasp politics.

      he managed a few little changes because he gave others up. popularity means very little. specially on a two part system.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @12:08PM (#50054859)

      Ironically, if Obama had done even half of what he promised to clean up the government, he could have asked for a Cuban-style health care system and his popularity would have made it impossible for the Republicans to stop him. We've reached the point where an honest politician with balls could practically control the federal government just by sheer force of the people's awe at his honesty.

      This reads like a work of fan fiction.

      I live here in the real world, where 30% of the country votes Republican and hates Democratic presidents no matter what, and a large part of the rest listens to these people, or are just plain racist. A 2008 black president would never, never, never (oh, and did I say "never"?) have been able to talk Congress into passing socialized medicine. The fact that he passed any kind of universal coverage at all is in retrospect just ridiculous. I'm still in awe that he managed it. I say "he", but frankly a lot of people sacrificed for this. And it still teetered on a razor's edge at multiple points.

      Do you not remember Senator Robert Byrd being wheeled into the Senate Chamber straight from his deathbed to break a Republican filibuster? They were trying to delay a vote (on an unrelated bill ahead of ACA on the docket) until he died and they could likely pick up his seat and kill the whole effort. Remember him whispering "shame shame" at his fellow senators for forcing him to do that, as many of them cynically applauded him? That's my memory. Thereafter Byrd did die, and they did pick up the seat, which stuck Congress with the bill in the form the Senate passed. Nothing new could possibly get past the filibuster.

      If Obama had delayed even a couple of days in starting the process, we wouldn't have the ACA today. That's a fact.

      • Yes, if memory serves, it was passed in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

        Really something to be proud of...

        • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

          Yes, if memory serves, it was passed in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

          Really something to be proud of...

          Your memory is pretty good. The only thing missing is that this was the Republican strategy from the get-go: Delay everything, even bills they supported, so that the ACA could not be gotten to by the Christmas recess. So the credit for the passage goes to the Democrats, while the "credit" for it being in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve goes to the Republicans.

          I suppose which part is worthy of being proud of is a matter of perspective.

      • Democrats had supermajority control of both houses. ALL Republicans voted against Obamacare; there was nothing they could do to stop it. Democrats blindly - literally blindly, nobody had read the whole bill when it passed - followed Herr Fuhrer Obama. This was an example of Democrats drunk with the arrogance of unlimited power.
    • , if Obama had done even half of what he promised to clean up the government, he could have asked for a Cuban-style health care system

      Cuban-style health care system? I know an American who lives in Cuba. His wife (Cuban) had a spot on her tongue and was worried it might be cancer. The Cuban health care system could not schedule an exam for her for two months, so her husband flew her to the US to be looked at the next day. Turned out a dental fixture was irritating her tongue. Whenever the people I know have a problem they think requires immediate attention, they fly to the US. This doesn't happen very often, but at least they have a choic

  • Political types use their connections to stay employed.

    News at 11.

  • Washington. is filled with staid contractor types not versed in the fast-paced new methodologies and technology. Witness the near failute of healthcare.gov. Now more SV types halping Washington.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-th... [nbcnews.com]
  • It's confirmed, Silicon Valley has jumped the shark.
  • As underdogs Obama and staff were so fake.

    Yup.. they will do well in Silicon Valley!stumpwm area out of bounds

  • That sounds cool and all, but what do they actually do there? What does an Engineering business need with a political functionary?

    For the most part, the value in having a former administration official is in leveraging their political ties. However, the Obama administration had notoriously bad relations with Congress, so there just won't be a lot of value there.

    The best I can come up with is that It does get you an in with the White House for the next year and a half or so. Since Congress can't do anythi

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      That sounds cool and all, but what do they actually do there? What does an Engineering business need with a political functionary?

      Lobbying usually has a much greater return on investment than research or manufacturing.

  • Hahahahahah (Score:2, Funny)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    "Change"

    "This is going to be the most transparent administration ever"

    "There will be no place for Lobbyists in the new Washington"

    Did I miss any?

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