Obama, Schmidt, Mundie: The Fellowship of the Pings
Back in 2005, Google was represented in Washington by a lone staffer–Alan Davidson, a telecom attorney who once served as associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. The company’s political innocence was something of a joke among seasoned beltway players and it didn’t seem to care. Google (GOOG) was far too busy organizing the world’s information to pay much attention to Washington.
How quickly things changed. By 2007, Davidson had been joined by 11 other lobbyists, among them a former high-ranking Justice Department antitrust lawyer. And now, two years later, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been named by President Obama to his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In that role he’ll work with a group of distinguished academics and executives–a group that, incidentally, includes Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft (MSFT)–to help the administration “formulate policy in the many areas where understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key to strengthening our economy and forming policy that works for the American people.”
Schmidt’s appointment isn’t all that surprising. He served as an informal adviser to Obama during his campaign and he’s a smart guy who’s got some strong opinions about network neutrality, next-generation broadband, and intellectual property–issues that figure high on the president’s tech agenda. Still, it’s one more indication–and the biggest one yet–that Google has become firmly part of the Washington establishment.