Photo: Matt Rosoff
President Obama just got done speaking at Facebook, and while the content of his speech was worth some attention, the most interesting parts were when he noted how different the audience in front of him was than the typical American audience.Young. Obama kicked off by talking about his debt reduction plan, which proposes to raise taxes on some individuals back to where they were during the 1990s. Which is ancient history to a lot of the Facebook employees gathered in the crowd. As he put it, “I’m trying to think of a polite way to say this, but a lot of you were in diapers during the Clinton administration.”
In high demand. Obama noted that he gets frustrated whenever he comes to Silicon Valley because he hears so often that it’s hard to find qualified workers here, which he took as an indictment of the American education system.
No housing dip. Later, when answering an online question about lowering barriers to first-time homeowners, Obama began talking about the collapse of housing prices is still a big drag on the American economy. Then he noted that he probably wouldn’t get much sympathy from the crowd, seeing as rent and mortgage prices were so high here.
Obama also joked that the only company doing better than the oil companies was Facebook.
The whole speech was a reminder of Silicon Valley’s exceptionalism. There’s a tech boom on here, and young entrepreneurs are once again the toast of the town. But it’s not like the late 1990s, when the rest of the economy was thriving as well.
As they filed out, I asked a few employees what they thought of the speech. Most thought it was a fun experience, and were reminded of what a great speaker Obama was during the 2008 campaign, but they weren’t sure what to do with what he said.
As one employee, Ethan Richard, put it: he’s got some great ideas. The hard part is the implementation.
Sort of like building a successful tech company.
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