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United States Government

Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the knows-how-to-program-her-VCR dept.
theodp writes: Bloomberg is reporting that Google X's Megan Smith is the top candidate for U.S. Chief Technology Officer. With a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and experience ranging from General Magic to Google, Smith would arguably be the first U.S. CTO worthy of the title (the outgoing U.S. CTO has a bachelor's in Econ; his predecessor has a master's in Public Policy). "Smith joined Google in 2003. As vice president of business development, she oversaw many of its most important acquisitions, like Keyhole, the service that underlies Google Earth. She has led the company’s philanthropic division, Google.org, and served as a co-host for Google’s Solve for X forum, where distinguished thinkers and scientists brainstorm radical technology ideas with Google executives."
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Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title

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  • Because while she is quite qualified for the position I can bet that some in Congress will not only have an issue with her gender but also her sexual orientation.

    Note that I do not believe this should be an issue at all, but reality is often different from what we would hope.

    • by Bartles (1198017)
      Yes, many in Washington will want her as CTO specifically because of her gender and sexual orientation.
    • by Nimey (114278) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @06:03PM (#47792907) Homepage Journal

      Pfft. She's more likely to be discriminated against because of the uppity black man who nominated her.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @06:46PM (#47793065)

      Because while she is quite qualified for the position I can bet that some in Congress will not only have an issue with her gender but also her sexual orientation.

      Note that I do not believe this should be an issue at all, but reality is often different from what we would hope.

      Trust me, congress doesn't give a crap about who or what she is. What they care about is if they can use her to hurt their political opponents.

      • by John3 (85454)
        Or rile up their base.
        • by lgw (121541)

          No one in either party's base gives a fuck about the gender or orientation of the holder of some office they've never heard of and will never care about. Maybe a few geeks care about this? Maybe?

          • No one in either party's base gives a fuck about the gender or orientation of the holder of some office they've never heard of and will never care about. Maybe a few geeks care about this? Maybe?

            No position or issue is too obscure for congress and their PR agency, Fox News, to use as ammunition against the president.

            • Funny, I didn't realize that Fox News was the PR agency for the Senate - you know, the body of Congress that actually approves the President's nominations (the House has nothing to do with the process). Perhaps a brush-up on civics is in order?
            • by lgw (121541)

              Man, you're so right: Fox News will totally sabotage Obama's re-election chances over this! News of the complete disaster which is the president's foreign policy will be bumped below the fold for 24-hour coverage of "office no one cares about"!

      • Definitely. Members of both parties will use her that way, without giving a crap who or what she is.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is the Senate that approves or denies Presidential appointees that actually require approval.

      For what it is worth, the US CTO position was created by President Obama, just as he and his predecessor made up numerous Czar positions. Unlike the Czar positions that are created, this one actually does go through the approval process. However, considering that the first person to gain the title of the position was the secretary of technology (effectively the state-level equivalent) led to the near-collapse of

      • by John3 (85454)

        but no one of relevancy is going to throw themselves under the bus to stop a Googler from getting a CTO position during an election cycle that the Republicans hope to win the majority in.

        They don't just throw themselves under the bus, they pile up in front of it. It whips the base into a feeding frenzy.

        • It whips the Democrats into a frenzy? Indeed. It even stirs up some of the Republicans.

          They need an issue beyond 'Incompetent President' to stir up voters. That elephant is in the room but it's boring to the public.

  • Revolving door (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Her coming from Google matters more than her degree. Revolving door politics is bad news for the consumer and for smaller businesses.

    • by plover (150551)

      Don't underestimate the importance of the right education. Our company almost collapsed under the stupid organizational structure put in place by our last CIO, who was not an engineer, and had no idea how engineers work. I never before realized how much damage an org chart could do.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        Do not base your opinion on someone by the subject of their degree.

        You can be an engineer without ever attending university.
        You can get a Masters in computer science and still know fuck all about technology, information or otherwise.

        I'd far rather have someone with in-depth hands-on industry experience making decisions than some academic with no real-world understanding, whatever their underlying academic discipline was.

        • I'd far rather have someone with in-depth hands-on industry experience making decisions than some academic with no real-world understanding, whatever their underlying academic discipline was.

          Academia is part of the real world, easily as much as industry is. Furthermore, the most fundemental breakthroughs tend to come from academia. So, what's your beef?

          • by schnell (163007)

            Academia is part of the real world, easily as much as industry is.

            HA HA HA hee hee hee ha. Wait, you were serious?

            Academia, technically, is part of the "real world." It's just the part with 180 degree different rules and priorities than the "industry" part that employs most Americans is. I have plenty of friends in academia and I love them to death but when we compare "what's happening at work" I will talk about the life or death of some multi-million dollar project that's keeping me up at night, and they will reveal their big pain point at work is that some guy caused an

  • Story is false (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @05:02PM (#47792645) Homepage

    From the link BY THE FUCKING CONTRIBUTOR HIMSELF:

    Prior to his career in government, Park was the co-founder of two successful health information technology companies.

    So a man who started two IT companies by the age of 35 doesn't have a background in Technology, because he got a graduate degree in business?

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      possibly not they might have just been the money man just because your an accountant at a tech company does not mean that you know that much about the technology involved
    • I recently started a new tech company. One of my business cofounders knows essentially nothing about engineering, tech, or production - but he is a heck of a sales and marketing guy. Just because he cofounded a tech company does not mean he understands tech - at all. Just like being a CTO does not mean you know anything about marketing and sales.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You could have the smartest and most qualified person on the planet in that position and it wouldn't make any difference. Governments in general and the US Government especially are bunglers. They mess things up and make problems worse. If she's smart, it should only take her six months or less to figure out that she's being used for PR purposes because she's a smart women with a tech degree, not because anybody in the government bureaucracy is actually going to change anything. Think about the kind of pers

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hate to see things like this happen. Appointing her just because she is female cheapens what I've done. Just as the joke of a new CEO of Microsoft who was picked for his race pisses off my Indian friends, this is the same deal.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      Correct. In this case, she's female and she's gay. It's a PR stunt that hurts equal opportunity for every woman to prove herself to her peers.

      • by TC (WC) (459050)

        So you think appointing a woman to a political position... hurts equal opportunity for women?

        You seem to be working on the assumption that a lesbian inherently can't be a reasonable choice without taking PR into account.

        Why don't you think this person's proved herself and in what scenario would you think that the political appointment of a lesbian isn't primarily for PR reasons?

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @04:09AM (#47794495) Journal

      I hate to see things like this happen.

      What appointing a CTO based on the fact that the CTO is actually substantially more expert in technology than any of the previous CTOs appointed in that position?

      Appointing her just because she is female cheapens what I've done.

      You seem to be assuming that the reason she's being picked is something other than her track record---a track record which is impressive. That reflects more on you than on her or the people who picked her.

      Just as the joke of a new CEO of Microsoft who was picked for his race pisses off my Indian friends, this is the same deal.

      If your friends are claiming that Microsoft would poor candidates based on race then I'd advise to inquire how they think Microsoft chose Ballmer. He's white in case you hadn't noticed and was terrible.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mechanical engineering? Really? No way. Strong cyber computer science credentials are needed.

  • This sounds mostly political, then a bit managerial, then a teeny weeny bit technical. And from what I've read before, that post is mostly a bully pulpit with 0 effective power.

    I'm sure each and every budgeting unit have their own systems, their own standards, their own teams, and their own kickbacks -sorry, suppliers. Standardizing, rationalizing and unifying all that is a bit technical, but, mostly, political.

    • Umm if it had zero effective power it certainly wouldn't be a bully pulpit. In fact it wouldn't even be a regular pulpit.

      • Umm if it had zero effective power it certainly wouldn't be a bully pulpit. In fact it wouldn't even be a regular pulpit.

        Agreed. The U.S. federal government is so incredibly goofed up right now that the practical impact of this appointment will be approximately nil.

      • from wikipedia:

        "A bully pulpit is a position sufficiently conspicuous to provide an opportunity to speak out and be listened to."
        Not to "do", not to "enforce".. just to "be heard".

        Sounds apt to me.

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @05:53PM (#47792875)
    Are the other applicants less qualified? Do any of them have degrees in mechanical engineering? We don't know, because the only person mentioned is Megan Smith. We can't fairly judge whether or not she'd be a good fit because we have no idea what the alternatives are.
    • We can't fairly judge whether or not she'd be a good fit because we have no idea what the alternatives are.

      No: whether a candidate is a good fit is independent of the other candidates. Whether a candidate is the best fit depends on teh other candidates. However, given the previous appointees, Smith would be the most qualified CTO so far.

      So, Smith is a very good fit. Others may be better, but given historical trends it seems unlikely.

  • CxO is a whore.
  • Government wasn't about your qualifications, but about which party is in control and how much the person put in that position could further their agenda.

  • by Mistakill (965922) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @08:31PM (#47793449)
    ... the willingness to admit you don't know everything, and are willing to seek expert advice...
  • "worthy" is better judged in restrospect.
  • ...we start talking about how disadvantaged women are in tech, and how we need to throw money at the problem or something?

  • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @07:51AM (#47794915)

    There is no doubt that she has the chops and anyone would be lucky to snare an executive with her background and talents. But the article's focus on what degree she has is just silly. The brightest developer I ever knew had a degree in chemistry. The best Director of development I ever hired was an Air Force tech. The best COO I ever worked for was a lawyer / polysci major with no business classes under his belt. The best Director of IT I ever had earned an associates degree and got her A+ certification to get her first job.

    Meanwhile, the worst Director of Development I ever had was an MS of CompSci with an MBA. Guy was a tool and an idiot. The worst COO I ever had was an MBA with top grades from a top school. The worst CFO I ever worked with was a chemistry major. OK, that one kinda goes against my point. Forget about him.

      Still, my point stands:

    If you are still worrying about your degree 20 years out of college, you haven't done anything.

  • by echtertyp (1094605) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @09:17AM (#47795153)
    Reading her bio, she sounds really good. And the projects she's worked on make it clear that she likes technology. If the U.S. won't take her, I hope Germany or the EU will.
  • The idea that you must have a technical degree to be "worthy" of the CTO title is idiotic. Stupidest Slashdot submission ever.

I'm all for computer dating, but I wouldn't want one to marry my sister.

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