The speculation begins: Obama's next Commerce Secretary?

-Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman and (until April 4) chief executive of Google. He campaigned for Obama in 2008 and is already expected to spend more time in Washington, as a Google liaison, when he finishes his tenure as CEO.

-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. He had a close relationship with Obama dating back to law school, and delivered on the president's campaign promise to pass net-neutrality rules—a feat requiring a tightrope walk between the industry and public advocate demands.

-Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative. He was the center of Transportation Secretary speculation before he was named to his current gig. The trade job means he's already versed in key issues for the Commerce Department. Top technology matters for Kirk have included a push to raise awareness about intellectual property theft by foreign criminals. 

-John Thompson, the former chief executive of Symantec and a former IBM exec. He served on the congressionally-created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, exploring the causes of the downturn. His name bounced around the last time Obama had to choose a Commerce Secretary, and he campaigned for Obama. 

-One of the members of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Obama has a deep bench of top business executives advising him on economic issues. At least one, Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerTrump transportation chief to join Biden for jobs event DeVos should ‘persist’ despite liberal opposition Indiana teachers hold sit-in to demand Young recuse himself from DeVos vote MORE, attracted Commerce Secretary buzz last time around.

The Commerce Secretary position was a tough position for Obama to fill in 2009. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) took themselves out of the running.