It's been less than six hours since the appointment of Aneesh Chopra as the first national CTO was officially made, but, already, the opinions on it are flying.
Bottom line: While some in Silicon Valley are lamenting that one of their own wasn't chosen, anyone who knows Aneesh is thrilled. Both sides are represented in this Slashdot conversation titled: "Obama Appoints Non-Tech Guy As CTO".
By far, the best summation of Chopra's potential comes from uber-geek Tim O'Reilly. I've excerpted his top-eight list of reasons on why the appointment was an excellent one, but please go to the source for all the fire power behind each point...
Chopra has been focused for the past three years on the specific technology challenges of government.
The role of the CTO is to provide visionary leadership, to help a company (or in this case, a government) explore the transformative potential of new technology.
Chopra demonstrates a deep understanding of the idea that the government is an enabler, not the ultimate solution provider.
Chopra understands that government technologists need to act more like their counterparts in Silicon Valley.
Chopra is a practical innovator.
Chopra has a real focus on measurement, and on figuring out what really works.
Chopra has specific expertise in Health Care IT.
Chopra is incredibly charismatic.
Silicon Valley execs and tech bloggers sounded genuinely excited about Obama’s choice Saturday morning and tech industry lobbying groups TechNet and the Business Software Alliance quickly released statements of support, as did several tech heavyweights
More specifically, here is what said heavyweights said...
Craig Barrett, Chairman, Intel Corporation:
“Aneesh Chopra is one of technology’s leading lights and we are lucky to have him as our nation’s Chief Technology Officer. Aneesh demonstrated outstanding leadership as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology and believes to his core that innovation and technology are the backbone of our economy. We applaud President Barack Obama for this choice of a proven, results-driven and experienced executive that will harness the power of innovation and cutting-edge discovery to help to make government work better for all of our citizens.”
Vinod Khosla, Founder of Khosla Ventures:
“President Obama has made a stellar choice in the appointment of Aneesh Chopra as America’s CTO. This man is a ‘do-er,’ plain and simple. He is a visionary leader and executive who can bring people together around a vision to get the job done.Aneesh is a passionate advocate of how technology and innovation can positively impact the lives of millions of our citizens through improved education, health-care, helping better protect our environment and so much more.”
Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation and founding Chair, Mozilla Foundation:
“President Obama has made an outstanding choice in naming Aneesh Chopra as the nation's first CTO. I got to know Aneesh during the 2008 Presidential campaign and transition, where I worked with him and experienced first-hand his great drive, broad skills and inspirational approach to to how technology can be used to spur innovation, help create good jobs, grow the economy, and improve the delivery of services by the government to its citizens. Aneesh's experience as Virginia's Secretary of Technology and that state's CTO has provided highly relevant preparation for this new role, and I am confident he will be a major asset to the Administration.”
Scott McNealy, founder and Chairman of Sun Microsystems and Chairman of Sun Federal, Inc.:
“Aneesh Chopra is the type of results-focused and open-minded technology leader that our country needs. Aneesh has the abilities and experience to harness innovation for the greater public good, whether that is to reduce health care costs or increase access to government services through open source, make our country's systems more secure, foster job creation, or better prepare our future workforce. We have the utmost confidence that Aneesh will succeed in driving more efficiency and innovation into the government and get the most for the U.S. tax payer's investments.”
John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and TecNet Co-founder:
“If you want innovation, change and high performance – in any organization – the CTO role is crucial. Aneesh is an inspired appointment. His smarts and experience in technology, health care and investing will serve us well.”
Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association:
“Chopra is an excellent selection as he served proficiently in Virginia as Secretary of Technology and also has a strong background in the private sector advising the health care industry on technology management issues. He will bring to the position real world technology and public policy experience. The creation of the CTO position – and the excellent appointment of Aneesh Chopra – demonstrate the high priority the Obama administration places on the technology industry. CEA views this position as critical as it allows one individual responsibility across government agencies on key technology issues. It also ensures our industry a strong voice at the Cabinet level as issues of intellectual property, immigration, trade and taxes are discussed.”
Jim Hawley, TechNet Acting CEO:
“Aneesh is a true visionary who keenly understands the power of innovation to create jobs, help our environment, improve health care delivery and better educate our kids. His work and track record in Virginia will serve as the model for this newly created office of Chief Technology Officer. In Virginia, his office set the standard of how technology and cutting-edge discovery can improve the lives of our citizens and this will serve as a model of how IT can help make government work better for all of us. We look forward to working with him to ensure that America remains the epicenter of global innovation."
Leslie Harris, CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology:
“I know Aneesh to be an amazingly dynamic and results-oriented innovation leader. His leadership as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology was outstanding and this background and experience will serve him well in the new Administration. He knows that technology helps drive our economic recovery and is critically important to improving government service for all of our people. CDT looks forward to working with him."