The White House has announced Megan Smith, VP of Google’s secretive research lab Google X, will become the new Chief Technology Officer of the United States last night. The 49-year-old will replace Todd Park, who stepped down from the CTO role to take over as technology adviser for Barack Obama last month. Smith will be the first woman to take on the role.
Here’s how Megan Smith got to where she is now:
- In 1986, Smith began her studies in Massachusetts Institution of Technology. She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the institution.&
- At MIT, Smith was part of the student team that designed, built, and raced a solar car 2,000 miles across the Australian outback in the first cross-continental car race.
Smith began her career in Tokyo. She first worked for Apple Computer Japan, where she worked on their multimedia.
- In 1999, Smith married Re/code journalist Kara Swisher. Their relationship lasted 15 years, and they had two children, but the couple is currently separated.
- Smith became CEO of PlanetOut in 2001, after being COO. PlanetOut is an interactive company and a group of websites dedicated to the LGBT community. Under Smith, the business’s outreach grew by 10 times.
- She has spoken out against hatred of homosexuals in some religions. At the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in 2001, she spoke out against the hate mail the PlanetOut site received.
- She joined Google Inc in June 2003, where she started off as director of new business development. During her time at Google, she led acquisitions of companies that became Google Earth and Google Maps. She later took over as general manager of Google.org. She worked at Google for nine years before she was named a vice president of Google X in 2012.
- She does a lot of other things on the side. Her biography on the MIT Media Lab website reads: “Over the years, Smith has contributed to a wide range of engineering projects, including an award-winning bicycle lock, space station construction program, and solar cook stoves…”
Here’s a video of Megan Smith at Startup Grind in 2014: