The elephant has left the building
Fortune's Jeffrey O'Brien writes:
Any of the thousand-or-so people who showed up at TechNet's annual Innovation Summit yesterday expecting a meaningful discussion about the effect of the recent election on the tech biz went home sorely disappointed. Instead, the event (which took place at Stanford University and doubled as a live taping of the Charlie Rose show), only underscored how little Silicon Valley cares about politics.
Most of the four-hour affair involved Rose lobbing softballs to his guests, who he repeatedly referred to as "friends." Those friends used the forum to hammer on the bipartisan political action committee's usual wishlist: immigration/visa policy, R&D tax credits, and education reform. The only new wrinkle came in the investment community's latest cause celebre, green technology. The organization officially unveiled a "Green Technologies initiative" to generate an action plan for government policy makers, a clear road map for how green technology can be best put to use to solve the world's energy crisis.
There's no one better in the Valley to tout the promise of a new premise than uber-VC and TechNet founder John Doerr. Doerr was his usual well-prepared, articulate self, hyping the next great already over-hyped trend. On a panel with Sun's Scott McNealy and KR Sridhar, CEO of the Kleiner-funded Bloom Energy, Doerr said a perfect storm of forces is convening on "what could be the largest economic opportunity of this century." From lefty tree-huggers to holier-than-thou evangelicals, everyone is recognizing the dangers of global warming and dependence on foreign oil. And they better, Doerr added: "In a half century, Manhattan could be under water."
Doerr was the best of the lot. McNealy, who wore his patented Sun Microsystems (SUNW) white oxford, seemed to think the point of the show was to tout his company's super-fast, energy-saving servers as Rose nodded along. Sridhar, a NASA alum and expert on Mars who now runs the secretive Bloom Energy, seemed there mainly to fill in the technical gaps for Doerr. Following the green panel, Rose cooed along with Bill Gates and then eventually gave way to the Governator, who put the perfect cap on the event by talking for 15 minutes and saying absolutely nothing.
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