Why Venture Capitalists Should Support Barack Obama

The following was written by Julius Genachowski, founding partner of LaunchBox Digital and special advisor to General Atlantic, and Mark Gorenberg, a partner with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

This is a defining moment in our history and the most important election of our lifetimes. We face unprecedented economic, energy, environmental, and healthcare challenges. It is critical that the United States have a President who can respond to these challenges, regain the respect that we once enjoyed across the globe, and enact a plan to strengthen America’s competiveness in the 21st century. Senator Barack Obama believes America is a nation where the power of innovation and the world’s strongest work ethic can come together to provide solutions in these hard economic times. Senator Obama is the leader we need now.

Barack Obama has laid out a comprehensive plan for America called the “Blueprint for Change.” These proposals incorporate the belief that science, technology, and innovation are critical parts of the solution to America’s most pressing problems.

Senator Barack Obama launched his campaign for the Presidency in Springfield, Illinois on February 10, 2007 with a speech that let us know at the campaign’s earliest moments that technology and innovation would be key components of an Obama Administration.  In November 2007, he gave a landmark speech on the Google campus in Silicon Valley and laid out his comprehensive Technology & Innovation Plan.  Since then, the role of science and technology has appeared in Obama’s speeches on the economy, energy, health care, urban policy and government reform – together, comprising an unprecedented Innovation Agenda for America. Just last month, the Obama campaign rolled out its science plan with the endorsement of 61 Nobel Laureate Scientists, which was followed by the recent endorsement of all three American scientists who won Nobel Prizes this fall.

Barack Obama’s Technology and Innovation plan details his proposals in six key areas: ensure an open Internet, create a transparent and connected democracy, encourage a modern communications infrastructure, prepare all of our children for the 21st century economy, improve America’s competitiveness, and employ science and technology to solve our nation’s most pressing problems.

As part of his Innovation Agenda, Barack Obama will:

  1. Deploy a 21st century information infrastructure, and bring universal access to broadband to all of America’s communities.
  2. Lower health care costs and reduce medical errors by investing in electronic medical records.
  3. Invest in climate-friendly energy development by investing $150 billion over the next ten years (and creating five million new jobs) to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote commercial-scale renewable energy, and begin the transition to a new digital energy grid. The plan will work to ensure that 25% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025 and implement a cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050.
  4. Make a national commitment to science education and training by recruiting some of America’s best minds to teach K-12 math and science and by tripling the number of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowships.
  5. Restore integrity to science policy to ensure that decisions that can be informed by science are made on the basis of the strongest possible scientific evidence.
  6. Double the federal investment in basic research.
  7. Encourage innovation to flourish by making the R&D tax credit permanent and streamlining our patent system.
  8. Reform immigration to further enable high-skill immigrants to contribute to the U.S. economy.
  9. Support regional innovation clusters to support American entrepreneurs.
  10. Use technology to build a 21st century government that is open and participatory, relying on the best minds and technologies to address our country’s problems while generating significant cost savings.
  11. Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government operates most efficiently for the 21st century.

Barack Obama also understands that startups and small businesses create two-thirds of new jobs and will be the engine behind our next economic recovery. He not only supported the recent financial market rescue legislation, but he has also proposed a separate Small Business Emergency Rescue Plan to ensure small business can receive capital during this tough economic period. His plan includes both a zero capital gains rate for investments in startups and small businesses and a $250 million fund to create a national network of private company incubators to support small business growth.

These are just some of the reasons we endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States and why the venture capital and private equity communities should enthusiastically support him as well.

Julius Genachowski is a Founding Partner of LaunchBox Digital and Special Advisor with General Atlantic. Mark Gorenberg is a Managing Director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.