New TechNet CEO Rey Ramsey Speaks!
Yesterday–in a very precious San Francisco tea cafe of BoomTown’s choosing–Rey Ramsey was unfailingly and politically polite, despite my rat-a-tat questions and the shoving of a Flip video camera in his face on his first visit to California after nabbing his new job as president and CEO of TechNet.
Ramsey better get used to it, though, as he takes over the bipartisan political network of tech types, which is heavy with Silicon Valley power brokers who are often at odds.
They include an executive council with co-chairs John Chambers, CEO of Cisco (CSCO), and mega-venture capitalist John Doerr, as well as Intel (INTC) CEO Paul Otellini and Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt.
Member companies include Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO), Apple (AAPL), Dell (DELL), craigslist, eBay (EBAY) and more.
While they are often wrangling competitively, it will be Ramsey’s job to get them on the same page on a wide range of issues they do agree on, such as visas, the need for more broadband, support for innovation and especially, blocking net neutrality regulation.
With the Obama administration more engaged in digital issues, it might be a good time for TechNet, which was founded in 1997 (I wrote the story about that in The Wall Street Journal, which dates me!). Unusually, it has not had as high a profile over the years as it should have.
But Ramsey, who has deep political ties to the new administration, also has a lot more tech savvy than past TechNet leaders. He co-founded One Economy, a laudable group that tries to bring tech to less privileged parts of society.
How to bridge the digital divide in a way that is more than words is another important issue Ramsey will have on his plate.
Here is the video of my interview with him talking about this and more (in which Ramsey mistakenly seems to say Apple was not a member of TechNet, but was referring to being on its Executive Council):