Mike Isaac

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Please Welcome Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Brad Smith and Sean Parker to the ZuckerPAC

WashingtonMonumentMr. Zuckerberg isn’t the only tech titan scaling Capitol Hill this year — he brought friends.

The Facebook CEO adds a few more impressive names to the roster of his D.C. political advocacy group on Friday; Microsoft founder Bill Gates, current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Intuit CEO Microsoft General Counsel and EVP Brad Smith and Sean Parker of Facebook and Napster fame have all joined FWD.us, Mark Zuckerberg’s pet D.C. project aimed at changing the way Washington handles issues around immigration, education and employment issues.

“We’re thrilled that Bill Gates, Brad Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Sean Parker — longtime advocates for vital policies like comprehensive immigration reform that will grow our economy — are joining FWD.us’ efforts to organize and engage the tech community,” Joe Green, president of FWD.us, said in a statement.

“We’ve been excited by the momentum we continue to see as more members of the tech community contribute to the national debate to improve our economic future, and support the bipartisan policies that will boost economic growth and continue to grow the knowledge economy,” he said.

The group, which formally launched with a bang and an op-ed penned by Zuckerberg himself in the Washington Post earlier this month, isn’t an official Facebook joint. Rather, I’m told, it’s Zuckerberg’s own thing, focusing on legislative issues he’s especially frustrated with. In particular, the bringing in of engineering talent from outside the U.S. and how tough that can be, as well as the difficulties around convincing foreign entrepreneurs to set up shop stateside.

Gates and company aren’t the only powerful friends Zuckerberg has asked to come along for the ride. At launch, the FWD.us roster read like a veritable Who’s Who list of Silicon Valley, including figures like LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, just to name a few.

It certainly can’t hurt the group’s political clout on the Hill to have the heads of multiple Fortune 500 companies on its side — to say nothing of their wallets.

Along with supporting the Gang Of Eight legislation — which aims to improve the road to citizenship for immigrants and guest-worker programs — the group’s agenda is focused broadly on education issues, ultimately hoping to beef up the number of science and tech grads in the U.S.

Welcome to the Hill, techies.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”