Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

eMeg’s Charm Offensive (Take 47); Foxy & Brown

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Meg Whitman’s new ad, “130 Miles,” is an attempt to use the glamor of Silicon Valley to reboot eMeg’s image as a can-do business executive whose skill is needed to repair California’s “mismanaged, ineffective” government. It’s polished and – if you knew nothing else about her, Silicon Valley or how government works – a persuasive 30-second argument.

But alas, reality bites. Give eMeg’s ad minions props for drawing a sharp line between Sacramento and Silicon Valley, which “gave us Apple, Intel, eBay.” Of course, as Jerry Brown’s campaign noted in its response, “At least eight Fortune 500 companies were founded in California during Brown’s governorship,” including Apple, Oracle, Amgen, Symantec, Electronic Arts and Sun (purchased by Oracle in 2009).

BTW, the choice of Apple, Intel and eBay is clever cherry-picking, but actually, the largest Silicon Valley companies in terms of 2009 sales were Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Cisco, Intel, Oracle, Google and Sun, in that order Then came eBay.

Calbuzz: The Prairie Years (With Actual Longhorn)

Brown can quibble but can’t really refute the ad’s assertion that Whitman “started with 30 people, led them, managed them, executed the plan that grew this main street company to 15,000 employees and made small business dreams come true.” But they did come up with a nice little gotcha: seems the eBay small-business success story featured visually in the ad – EasySale – is based in Arlington, Texas, and isn’t licensed to do business in California. Go Longhorns! Oops.

But we digress. What this very slick ad does not address is perhaps the most important question facing Whitman’s candidacy for governor: Even if she was a smashing success in Silicon Valley (and there’s certainly debate about that), what does that have to do with governing in Sacramento?

Since at least half of your Calbuzz team cut his teeth in Silicon Valley, we know that there are plenty of big fish who’ve come out of the Valley – Larry Ellison, Jerry Sanders, John Scully, Frank Quattrone, Mark Hurd, Steve Jobs, Scott McNealy to name a few – who don’t belong in politics. (Note: We’re not even mentioning Carly Fiorina.)

Running a company, answering to venture capitalists or a board of directors and shareholders, placing profit at the core of your soul, issuing commands to underlings, laying out an action plan and ordering people to implement it – these skills may serve the bottom line. But they don’t remotely resemble the abilities a governor needs: civic vision, coupled with facility for cajoling, compromising and co-operating, to name a small part of the collaborative, consensus-building skill set required of an effective political leader.

That 130 miles between Silicon Valley and Sacramento is indeed more like the distance between two planets. It’s Whitman’s challenge to demonstrate that she can do more than yammer about how she understands what it takes to create jobs. She needs to convince Californians that she could actually govern.

One more intriguing note: In this new version of eMeg’s Charm Offensive (she’s trying to get her favorables up from 40%) there are shots of her from four different magazines but no live footage of Her Megness Herself.  Guess they just ran out of time.

Department of burning pants: As we noted Wednesday, state Republican leaders are spinning like Schwins the claim that the GOP statewide ticket represents not only a breakthrough for their white man’s party, but, more broadly, a stirring display of never-before-seen diversity in the history of California politics.

The latest reporter to bite on this story is Araceli Martinez Ortega, writing at the Spanish language site Impre.com. Here’s a bit of a translated excerpt eblasted by the GOP:

As never before in its history, Republicans have managed to put together a formula that represents the diversity of the state – two female candidates, a Latino, and an African-American – with the goal of winning the general election in November…They face a Democratic ticket consisting primarily of Caucasians (emphasis ours).

Sigh. Ortega can probably be forgiven for peddling this canard; after all, for her him to have discovered that the two party tickets have exactly the same numbers of men, women, whites and minorities would have taken incredible effort, on the order of the complex and wide-ranging investigation Calbuzz conducted by counting up the demographic traits of those on the ballot.

But the state party is a different story.  They sent this stinky cheese around the state, knowing full well that the claim of an ethnic and gender difference between the two slates is a total crock.

For that we’re awarding them a copy of the shortest book ever published – “Richard Nixon’s Guide to Telling the Truth” (Introduction by Meg Whitman).

Out-foxed: There’s no bigger sacred cow in politics these days than small business (the phrase “small business is the backbone of the economy” Google generates 469,000 results).

Just now, for example, folks in Washington who favor extending the Bush tax cuts to the richest one percent of Americans constantly cloak their position in the self-righteous and cynical argument that anyone who opposes such an  outrageous homage to oligarchy is a pinko socialist determined to ruin poor old Uncle Chester’s hardware store, a stance that happens to be a lie.

In California, few are the equal of the wily Joel Fox in hoisting the small business fig leaf to disguise the big balls corporate beneficiaries of such policies. The resourceful Anthony York was the first to offer a glimpse behind this political pretense of plucky Main Street merchants, with a post detailing the actual sources of contributions to the Fox-run Small Business Action Committee PAC:

The SBAPAC revealed Tuesday evening that it received more than $1 million from alcohol, tobacco and real estate groups. Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, donated $500,000. Anheuser-Busch, which brews Budweiser, gave $200,000 and the Wine Institute chipped in another $50,000. Los Angeles-based Cypress Management Company gave the group $250,000.

Ah yes, Anheuser-Busch, your favorite neighborhood brewer, and good old Philip Morris, who runs the family farm out on the old River Road. Sheesh.

The $1 million detailed in the SBAPAC’s new spending report is only a fraction of the total amount of contributions to the group. That’s just the money earmarked for campaigns over two ballot measures, Propositions 25 and 27, in which corporations are fighting to preserve their sacred right (in California, anyway) to avoid being taxed just because a mere majority of lawmakers elected by the voters thinks it’s a good idea. Perish the thought.

What the SBAPAC report does not account for is another $3 million in contributions now being used to air ersatz “issue ads” whose clear purpose is to rip Jerry Brown’s face off on behalf of poor little rich girl eMeg.

Fox’s group uses a gaping loophole in the law to avoid disclosing those special interests donations, an avoidance he’s tried to tart up in the flag, the First Amendment and the Boston Tea Party several times over at his Fox and Hounds web site (we’d link to his recent pieces but F&H appears to be crashed at the moment).

Your Calbuzzards, however, think he got much closer to the nut of the matter when he told York: “I’ve got two lawyers who have looked at all of this, and there are different rules for the PAC. This has all been lawyered to death.”

We just bet it has.

A Big Role for Silicon Valley in California Governor’s Race

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The Tech Companies That Candidates Most Resemble
By Calbuzzer Jude Barry

Silicon Valley is known around the world as the epicenter of technology and innovation. For political candidates, it’s a good place to raise money and, perhaps more importantly, establish yourself as the Next Big Thing. This is particularly true for presidential candidates. In the mid-‘80s, Gary Hart tapped into Silicon Valley; his 1984 logo even had a Silicon Valleyesque digitized look.

In the ‘90s, Bill Clinton was the hot new start-up. He trumped George H.W. Bush with high-profile endorsements from Silicon Valley CEOs during the homestretch of the 1992 election, demonstrating that an Arkansas governor, not the incumbent president, understood the problem was “the economy, stupid.”

As president, Clinton emphasized the association by seating Apple CEO John Sculley next to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 1993 State of the Union.

Al Gore furthered his connection to Silicon Valley as VP, 2000 presidential candidate and now as a Nobel-prize-carrying private citizen continues to remain active in the community as an Apple board member, Google adviser, and venture capitalist.

John Kerry benefited greatly from the Clinton-Gore network and his own, out-raising President George W. Bush in Silicon Valley by approximately $5 million to $2 million in 2004.

Candidate Barack Obama was the prototypical Silicon Valley contender in 2008. He personified a disruptive technology company: new, young, and a challenge to the status quo. This, of course, translated into dollars. Obama not only raised significant money in Silicon Valley (by the end the primary season, he raised more in Northern California than Southern California), he used Silicon Valley technology and social networking to shatter all fundraising records, raising half a billion dollars online.

While it’s clear that many presidential candidates have used the cash and cachet of Silicon Valley to establish themselves as serious challengers, the high tech imprimatur hasn’t worked as well in statewide California elections.

Former Congressman Ed Zschau, a product and representative of the tech community, narrowly lost a 1986 U.S. Senate race to Alan Cranston (who, for all his liberal credentials, had authored the first bill to cut the capital gains tax – a favorite Silicon Valley cause). Tom Campbell, who served in Zschau’s congressional seat and as a state senator, lost badly in a 2000 U.S. Senate challenge. Former Controller Steve Westly, an early eBay executive, narrowly lost the 2006 Democratic primary for Governor.

But 2010 will be different. The Republican primary now boasts three candidates from Silicon Valley: Campbell, Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a former high-tech entrepreneur. Without a dramatic new entrant, the Republican gubernatorial candidate will have roots and a message based in Silicon Valley.

Whitman is laying the early claim to technology leaders with high-profile endorsements like John Chambers (Cisco) and Carol Bartz (Yahoo).

On the Democratic side, no candidate has similar connections or the network that naturally forms from working in Silicon Valley. But the candidates need not cede either Silicon Valley money or image. With the economy being an ascendant issue, as it was in 1992, Democratic candidates should borrow something from the Bill Clinton campaign playbook and demonstrate to Californians that they understand, as any governor must, one of the important economic engines of our state.

Further, Silicon Valley is morphing into the clean-tech capital of the world. Last year in the U.S., more silicon was used for solar panels than computer chips. Any candidate who recognizes that and can articulate how this will be a solid foundation of California’s economic future where jobs improve, not degrade, the environment, will have a strong appeal to voters.

Who will be the Silicon Valley candidate in 2010? Many candidates have the potential. So here’s a look at the likely gubernatorial candidates and some thoughts on how they might personify certain companies. You decide whose stock will rise or fall.


Jerry Brown – Apple
No Silicon Valley company has re-invented itself more successfully than Apple. From Lisa and Macintosh to Ipod and Iphone, Apple has changed with the times and frequently led the market. You can say the same about Brown and his political career. The one-time leftist, futurist California Governor became the centrist, realist Oakland Mayor.

Gavin Newsom – Facebook
Gavin hasn’t announced he’s in the race for governor yet. And Facebook hasn’t launched its IPO. But Gavin is counting on the same type of young, social-network energy that made Facebook successful. He has more Facebook supporters than any political figure in California.

Antonio Villaraigosa – Yahoo
Yahoo and Villaraigosa have had rough going lately. Yahoo has a new CEO and is laying off workers. Villaraigosa had weak showing in his mayoral re-election last month. But both have terrific market share. Yahoo despite its challenges remains one of the most visited sites. Likewise, the mayor of LA, despite questions about viability is the best known political figure in the largest media market in the state.

John Garamendi – Sun Microsystems

The Lieutenant Governor has been a party standard bearer for decades and is known as a solid and competent Democratic leader who has made policy contributions from health care to workers comp reform. Sun is not a household name, but in Silicon Valley the company has a reputation for strong technology contributions (workstations and Java). However, both are lagging. Garamendi trails known Democrats in the polls and Sun stock is at historic lows.


Meg Whitman – eBay
She’s eBay, of course. She led the online auction company from start-up to new-economy poster child and grew revenue from millions to billions. But eBay isn’t just about selling stuff you find at garage sales. The company created a real online community and a new economy. Whitman will talk about this as much as the jobs she helped create. Like eBay, she will have the marketing budget to just about tell any story she wants.

Steve Poizer – Intel
Poizner made his money and name in Silicon Valley by starting SnapTrack, a company that put GPS receivers in cell phones – over 700 million of them. That’s almost as ubiquitous as Intel, the chip-maker that dominates its market. Like Intel, Poizner isn’t known for being particularly exciting – just everywhere. While he may not have the CEO support that Whitman does in Silicon Valley, he has been cultivating the Republican grassroots both here and around the state.

Tom Campbell – Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati
Campbell served on the Harvard Law Review board, clerked for the Supreme Court and was a tenured law professor at Stanford at the age of 34. We know he’s smart and thoughtful. He demonstrated his legal and financial skills in Congress and in Sacramento as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance director. Given his intellectual prowess, he would be the premiere Silicon Valley law firm: Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Both the firm and Campbell are wired throughout Silicon Valley’s tech companies and venture firms.

Jude Barry is a Democratic political consultant from Silicon Valley and was, until last week, working for John Garamendi’s prospective campaign for governor. As of this writing he is unaffiliated in the race.