- REUTERS/Jim Youn
As technology plays an ever-larger role in our daily lives, Silicon Valley’s top executives are coming to wield a lot of political clout.
But that goes both ways, too: A lot of retired politicans and other Washington insiders are helping guide some of the biggest tech companies through legislative and regulatory hurdles.
Here are the big-time political power brokers helping shape the future of tech.
Former Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore joined Apple’s board of directors in 2003. He’s also a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
Dropbox sparked controversy in 2014 when it was announced that former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice would join its board. In the wake of the Iraq War, anti-war activists actually protested Dropbox’s offices over her appointment.
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Also in 2014, former Secretary of State General Colin Powell joined Salesforce’s board. This isn’t his first go-around: He was on AOL’s board in the 1990s before leaving when he became George W. Bush’s secretary of state.
- Jim Young/Reuters
In early 2015, Amazon hired former President Obama spokesperson Jay Carney to lead its PR efforts — just months before a scandal erupted over the online store’s workplace culture.
- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
In early 2014, Uber snatched up David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager, to lead its communications efforts. In 2015, he stepped down from that role, but continues to advise the mega-hot transportation startup.
- AP/ Ross D. Franklin
Caroline Atkinson was a senior adviser to President Barack Obama before joining Google’s public policy division earlier this year.
- YouTube Screenshot/CCTV
Chris Lehane, nicknamed the “Master of Disaster,” is a PR specialist who handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal for the Clinton administration. Now, he leads global policy at the home-sharing startup Airbnb.
- Craig Barritt/Getty Images
Ted Ullyot was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. In 2008, he joined Facebook as its first general counsel, and recently went to the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner.
- Andreessen Horowitz
Mark Penn was one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategists in 2008. In 2012, he joined Microsoft, where he came up with the notorious anti-Google “Scroogled” campaign. In 2015, he left to raise his own private equity fund.
Former Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson joined Apple in 2013 to lead their social policy efforts.
- Wikimedia Commons
Susan Molinari holds a distinction on this list: She was elected to the United States House of Representatives for three terms before she pursued brief careers in journalism and lobbying, before landing at Google to lead the search giant’s lobbying efforts in 2012.
- Bennett Raglin/Getty Images