Googler, Tweeter land White House posts

September 4, 2014 in Medical Technology

After it was reported that U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park was leaving his post, immediate speculation was that a Googler and a Twitter attorney were in the running to succeed him. Turns out: President Obama hired both.

Megan Smith, vice president of Google X, the technology giant’s futuristic lab, will assume Park’s old role as CTO — while former Twitter attorney Alexander Macgillivray will take on the role of deputy CTO.

“As U.S. CTO, Smith will guide the Administration’s information-technology policy and initiatives, continuing the work of her predecessors to accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies across every sector of the economy and aspect of human well-being,” John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – or PCAST – wrote in announcing the new appointments. 

Those predecessors include Aneesh Chopra and Todd Park, who was CTO of Health and Human Services prior to taking on the Federal CTO job.

Park, as an aside, is in an elite core of public figures leaving their post on the ground that they want “to spend time with family” who are actually credible. There is, in fact, a history of news articles quoting him saying that, in various ways, his wife was only willing to go along with him having an East Coast job for so long. 

“She gave me one final hall pass for this position, but she said, ‘You can choose to stay for longer than that, but I will divorce you.’ She said it in a way that wasn’t hysterical; she wasn’t viscerally angry, which made it all the more serious,” Park told Fast Company in a 2012 interview. “Like, ‘The sun will rise in the morning; it will set in the evening; and if you stay any longer in D.C. than you have to, I will divorce you.”

New U.S. CTO Smith worked at Google as director of business development for nine years before taking the job with Google X where, according to Holdren, she worked on such projects as an innovation community and tech-diversity initiatives. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.

Macgillivray, who worked at Google before taking the role of general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter in 2009, will “focus on a portfolio of key priority areas for the Administration, including Internet policy, intellectual property policy, and the intersection of big data, technology, and privacy,” Holdren wrote. Not only does Macgillivary hold a bachelor’s degree from Pricneton and a JD from Harvard Law School, he is also “a practicing developer and coder,” Holdren added.

Macgillivray succeeds former deputy CTO Nicole Wong, also a fomer Googler, who left the White House in mid-August, 2014.

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