Interviews/Profiles

Silicon Valley: ‘It all comes back to jobs’

The executives want lawmakers and the administration to take a hard look at several policies they believe would benefit innovative businesses, which would spark job creation in the process.

The CEOs, including John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins and John Chambers of Cisco, came to Washington as part of TechNet’s annual “fly-in.”

I had a quick chat with Kim Polese, CEO of SpikeSource, a Valley-based open-source software company, just after they met with House Democrats.

What is the main message you are trying to get across on this visit?

The focus really is on innovation and how important it is to ensure we have the policies that will help drive America in terms of jobs. It’s all about maintaining leadership in American innovation and job creation.

Today we’re in a pretty unique point in time where we have global competition that didn’t exist even five years ago. In the energy industry, just two years ago, China had 2 percent of solar market. Today it has 50 percent.

In the same time period, the U.S. went from 43 percent of the market to 16 percent.

That just shows how quickly things can change.

In your mind, what are the biggest policy issues?

The issues range from competitive tax policy, broadband deployment and patent litigation reform to clean tech.

Whom did you meet with?

We’ve met with the leadership and Republicans in the Senate. We’ve also met with Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in the House. 

In the White House, we’re meeting with folks in the administration, including people from Department of Commerce. We met with Peter Orzag of OMB and Valerie Jarrett.

We also had a good meeting with Julius Genachowski at the FCC about the broadband plan.

The importance of ensuring the broadband buildout is so critically important because it’s about opportunities for all and to ensure we don’t continue to fall behind as we have been.

Are there particular parts of the Broadband Plan you find especially promising?

Getting 100 megabits per second to 100 million American households is huge. That’s critical because that involves engaging all citizens. Also, transforming an $8 billion fund — we need to modernize it to apply to broadband.

Another area that’s key is public safety and national security and the importance of having a mobile public safety network.

What kind of reactions are you getting from policymakers?

We’re finding a lot of common ground. Our goals are really dovetailing with the goals of leaders on both sides of the aisle. Innovation is really going to drive job creation. It’s going to get us out of this recession and back into a leadership role.

Everyone’s starting to connect the dots in a way that hasn’t been done before. It’s not just giving speeches and listening politely. There’s real engagement going on.

We’re not finding a lot of disagreement. The real productivity of the day is how can we specifically work together to create jobs nationally and make sure we are being strategic about this and create strategies to restore our leadership globally. The right policy is critical to making that happen. It all comes back to jobs. …


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