Rumors of his appointment have been circulating for several weeks. In 2000, Ramsey co-founded One Economy, a nonprofit that focuses on bringing technology to unserved and low-income people. One Economy has been active in broadband initiatives and started the Broadband Opportunity Coalition, a collection of civil rights and minority groups. (One Economy was also a launching pad for co-founder Alec Ross, who is now senior innovation advisor in the State Department.)
Ramsey said he will leave One Economy at the beginning of 2010 and will remain chairman. Senior Adviser Moustafa Mourad will be acting CEO until a replacement can be found.
In a short phone conversation, Ramsey told me he would be infusing many of One Economy's values into his new gig. TechNet is a political network of technology executives. The group also announced today that Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Google CEO Eric Schmidt are joining the executive board. Facebook, Microsoft, Cisco, HP and Apple are also members.
"The questions is, how do we take this diverse array of CEOs and what they stand for and harness that to solve problems?" he said. He's most interested in the convergence of private innovation and public support. For instance, green technology helps solve a social problem, but also takes advantage of private innovation.
He said he is probably not the "traditional pick" for the position. He's interested in being active not just in Washington, but in tech corridors of California and Oregon, as well as states that aren't thought to be centers for innovation.
"I want to work with a governor who's state is struggling to create jobs," he said. "The jobs of the future are in this sector."
Broadband--the cause One Economy has championed--will continue to be part of his vision for the industry. He hopes the national broadband plan will involve the private sector, non-profits and governments. "It has to be broadband for a purpose," he said, for such things as education, healthcare and senior services.
"It's not enough that these technologies exist," he said. "How do we make sure people who need those technologies get to use those technologies? What policies do we need to put in place for that?"