Two Big Tech Names Are Headed to the White House

By Alexandra Duggan September 05, 2014

President Obama created the U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) position to help the White House utilize the power of technology in the increasingly connected nation.

On September 4th, President Obama named Google employee Megan Smith as the next U.S. CTO and assistant to the president. In addition, Twitter lawyer Alexander Macgillivray was appointed to serve as Deputy U.S. CTO.  Smith will be the third U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

In a more specific explanation of the CTO’s responsibilities, presidential science advisor John Holdren writes on the White House blog, "As U.S. CTO, Smith will guide the Administration's information-technology policy and initiatives, continuing the work of her predecessors to accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies across every sector of the economy and aspect of human well-being."

These are names that are widely-recognized and respected in the technology world, both Smith and Macgillivray spent time working in Silicon Valley with some of the most well-known companies. Yet, each new employee brings something different to the table. Smith has a background in engineering and creative thinking while Macgillivray has dealt with some of the Internet’s most complicated policy questions.

Smith is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer and is currently the vice president at Google[x], the company’s lab for new and innovative projects. She worked on the Google team that created Google Maps and Google Earth, and has experience with Washington civic tech through her work on the Google Crisis Response Project.

On the other hand, Macgillivray a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, is also a former employee of Google, but more recently worked as Twitter’s general counsel from 2009 to 2013 and is known for creating the platform for “free speech, pro-news bias”.  In his new role of Deputy U.S. CTO, he will be responsible for a few key areas including internet policy, privacy and the intersection of big data.

Obama welcomed Smith and Macgillivray to their new positions, stating on the White House blog: “I want to personally welcome Smith and Macgillivray to the Office of Science and Technology Policy team and congratulate them on their new roles. I look forward to working with both of them — and colleagues across the Administration and beyond — to continue advancing the President’s technology and innovation agenda for the good of the nation.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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