An iconic image for our times...last night President Obama broke bread with the titans of tech at John Doerr's tony Woodside manor. So who nabbed the coveted seats next to our Commander in Chief? None other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who respectfully heeded the no flip-flops rule, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in his signature black mock turtleneck.
As for the rest of the heavy-hitting line-up: in the top left corner is soon-to-be-former Google CEO Eric Schmidt; to his left is Art Levinson, the CEO of Genentech; next to Art is the don't-mess-with-Texas CEO of Cisco, John Chambers; sitting next to Chambers is John Doerr, key partner at storied venture firm Kleiner Perkins and the evening's host; seated to Doerr's left if Silicon Valley playboy and man-about-town, Larry Ellison...who also happens to be the CEO of Oracle; next to Ellison is Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, whose company WASN'T one of the unlucky digital content providers affected by Apple's billing subscription plan. Rounding out the far bench is academia's sole representative of the night, president of Stanford University, John Hennessy. This makes sense, considering Stanford's reputation as the best and most business-friendly engineering school in the country.
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Sitting at the far end of the table, next to Hennessy, is the straight-talking lady with a propensity toward f-bombs, Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz; next to Bartz is Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, whose company, like Zuckerberg's, recently found itself the focus of global political discourse around the role of social media in fomenting popular uprisings - quite the month for Twitter. Seated between Costolo and Zuckerberg is the evening's mystery guest, which we can only surmise is Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), tech CEO, billionaire and bona fide superhero. Fitting for the night's guest list, wouldn't you say? Plus, didn't he star in that movie with Larry Ellison?
Sitting to Jobs' left is Steve Westly, managing partner and founder of the Westly Group, a large investor in green technologies; and last, but not least, is Google VP and a big-time Obama campaign supporter, Marissa Mayer.
According to Bloomberg, the primary topics of conversation were the economy and education. However, some opined that with various class action lawsuits over privacy issues brewing against Apple, Google, Netflix, and Facebook, the taboo topic was bound to come up.
Needless to say, this meeting of minds brings a new significance to the phrase "A Seat at the Table."