Obama's CTO: Here's Who's In The Running

So now that Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt understandably told Jim Cramer he’s not interested in being “America’s CTO,” who’s being eyed for the job? There’s been a lot of fanciful speculation (Steve Jobs! Bill Gates! Lawrence Lessig!), but this weekend the WSJ identified who it thinks are the top three candidates for the job:

Julius Genachowski: Obama asked for Julius’ help in picking a CTO, and speculation runs high Julius might pull a Cheney and suggest himself. Julius knows all the right people: he’s a Harvard Law school chum of Barack’s, a former general counsel at IAC (IACI), and a former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Souter. Bonus: Valleywag hates him.



Don Gips: Don is chief strategy officer at Level 3 Communications (LVLT), and like Julius, already close to Obama and on the transition team. What makes Don a candidate: He was previously Al Gore’s chief adviser on technology issues, has deep ties within the Democratic party, and served as chief of the FCC International Bureau under the Clintons. Also a McKinsey alum.



Charles “Chuck” E. Phillips, Jr.: Chuck is president and director of Oracle (ORCL), and a director at Viacom (VIA) and Morgan Stanley (MS) as well. He came to Oracle after a Wall Street career at several investment banks, and served a few years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he promoted to captain. Chuck’s downside: He backed the wrong horse early, having financially backed the Hilary Clinton campaign before executing a 180 and giving heavily to Barack.



Perhaps more importantly: What the heck is Obama’s CTO going to do, anyway?  Why does this position matter? How much power will he or she have?  The “what” here is probably more important than “who.”

See Also: Obama CTO Search Gets Help

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