In Silicon Valley, it’s all about who you know, and who you are sitting next to. It’s difficult to imagine a wealthier set of guests than those invited to the home of Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr earlier this year, in the mega-wealthy enclave of Woodside, California. Together they represent companies worth nearly $1 trillion.
A statement released by the White House detailed the event:
This evening, the President joined twelve leaders from technology companies to discuss ways to work together to invest in American innovation and promote private sector job growth. In the President’s State of the Union Address, he called on us to win the future by out-innovating and out-educating the rest of the world and increasing American competitiveness. The President believes that American companies like these have been leading by investing in the creativity and ingenuity of the American people, creating cutting-edge new technologies and promoting new ways to communicate. The President specifically discussed his proposals to invest in research and development and expand incentives for companies to grow and hire, along with his goal of doubling exports over five years to support millions of American jobs. The group also discussed the importance of new investments in education and the new White House initiative Startup America, a partnership with the private sector aimed at supporting new startups and small businesses. The President expressed his desire to continue a dialogue with the group to share new ideas so we can work as partners to promote growth and create good jobs in the United States.
Obama’s guest list for the dinner, which lasted about two hours, was short and exclusive, a hand-picked sampling of a dozen executives with connections to powerhouse Internet firms that touch the lives of billions of consumers around the globe.
See the list of invitees and their wealth:
Title: Chairman, Google
Worth: $7 billion
Google market valuation: $171.8 billion
In his ten-year tenure, Schmidt oversaw Google’s transformation into the global internet giant that it is today. He stepped down as CEO last month and is now a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Arthur D Levinson
Title: Chairman, Genentech
Worth Earned: $850,000 in 2010
Genentech market valuation: $46.8 billion
Founded in 1976, Genentech pioneered using human genetic information to develop medicines, including cancer treatments. Levinson stepped down as CEO in 2009, and now sits on Apple’s board of directors.
Title: CEO, Cisco Systems
Worth: $1 billion
Cisco market valuation: $96 billion
Chambers raises his glass extra-high to Obama, showing that there are no hard feelings on the part of this co-chair of John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid. He earns his seat as chairman of Cisco, the dotcom boom’s most valuable company.
Title: Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Worth: $2.2 billion
The host for the evening, Doerr is a tech investor with a knack for backing a winning idea. Back in 1999, KPCB led a $25 million investment in upstart Google. KPCB has participated in over $2.3 billion of investments since May 2010.
Title: CEO, Oracle
Worth: $39.5 billion
Oracle market valuation: $177.6 billion
Currently the fifth wealthiest human being on the planet, Ellison co-founded Oracle in 1977. In true billionaire fashion, he splashed out over $100 million to ensure that his BMW Oracle sailing team won the America’s Cup last year.
Title: Co-founder and CEO, Netflix
Worth: Earned $5.5 million in 2010
Netflix market valuation: $12 billion
In 1997 Hastings co-founded Netflix, an online subscription service for movies and TV which now has over 20 million members across North America. He once taught maths in Swaziland during a two-year stint in the US Peace Corps.
John L Hennessy
Title: President, Stanford University
Worth: $31.4 million
Stanford endowment: $15.9 billion
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford has a long association with the area’s tech companies, many of whose founders – including those of Google, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo! – passed through the university.
Title: CEO, Yahoo!
Worth: Earned $47.2 million in 2009
Yahoo! market valuation: $23.7 billion
Bartz, who joined Yahoo! in 2009, holds the honour of having topped a 2010 list of executives paid too much for running underperforming companies. Although Yahoo! remains a global internet brand, it’s still considered to be in decline.
Title: CEO, Twitter
Worth: $120 million
Twitter market valuation: $3.7 billion
A computer science graduate and former improvisational comedian, Costolo sold FeedBurner – a provider of management tools for website owners – to Google in 2007 for a rumoured $100 million. Last year he took over as CEO of Twitter.
Title: CEO, Facebook
Worth: $13.5 billion
Facebook market valuation: $50 billion
The Social Network’s complex antihero, Zuckerberg is ‘trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share’, according to his own Facebook profile. Luckily for him, he’s becoming filthy rich in the process.
Title: President, USA
Worth: $10.5 million
USA $14.7 trillion (GDP)
Obama is noted for his love of technology: he embraced social media in his election campaign, and was reportedly gifted an iPad 2 a month before they went on sale. His aide Valerie Jarrett also attended the dinner.
Title: Co-founder and CEO, Apple
Worth: $8.3 billion
Apple market valuation: $323.3 billion
Jobs has transformed the tech industry several times. After his pioneering early years at Apple, he left the firm to set up NeXT (which created the machine on which the Web was developed), before returning to spearhead the ‘iRevolution’.
Title: Managing partner and founder, The Westly Group
Worth: $500 million
A Democratic Party supporter, venture capitalist Westly served as a California co-chair for Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign. The Westly Group has participated in over $178 million of investments since April 2010.
The hostess, as the wife of John Doerr, is no stranger to technology herself, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. An environmental activist and trustee of the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund, she works alongside her husband in his philanthropic endeavours.