Facebook, Google Battle For Obama, Washington Supremacy

Facebook screenshot i
AP
Facebook screenshot
AP

One of Washington's more intriguing contests has to be between Google and Facebook for Washington access and influence.

Now that they compete against each other as the most dominant forces on the Internet, the hearts and minds of President Obama and other Washington policymakers have are cherished targets for the technology giants.

On the Google side of things, many smart people are betting on Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO, becoming Obama's next Commerce Secretary. That would literally give him a seat at one of Washington's most important tables.

Not that he hasn't had one already. An Obama supporter, Schmidt has been one of the better known corporate chieftains to advise to the president on economic and business issues.

On Facebook's side of the battle line, the social networking giant is reportedly in job talks with Robert Gibbs, the president's former press secretary and a member of Obama's inner circle going back years.

With Gibbs knowledge of the way Obama thinks and so many players across the administration, his acquisition by Facebook could even be a bigger coup for that company then Schmidt becoming a cabinet member would be for Google.

The New York Times has a piece by Miguel Helft and Matt Richtel that examines Facebook's effort to get boost its Washington presence through a number of hires.

The last paragraph sums up the situation nicely:

"None of this is rocket science," said Andrew McLaughlin, who served as director of global public policy at Google before joining the White House as deputy chief technology officer in 2008. "You make a judgment as to how much of a threat you face in D.C., you decide how much money you are willing to spend, and then you hire people based on your strategic sense."

Of course, if your former CEO becomes Commerce secretary there's the added advantage for a technology giant of not even having to pay him while you get all that priceless access.

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