Google X guru tapped by White House as chief tech leader

4 September 2014, 7:30 pm EDT By Quinten Plummer Tech Times
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Megan Smith helped Google acquire the Earth platform and served as second in command over the search engine company's Google X division before accepting the White House's appointment as its chief technology officer.

Smith is the first woman to serve as the White House CTO, a position was created on President Barack Obama's first day in office. Obama applauded Smith's achievements as he extended a White House welcome to her and Alexander Macgillivray, deputy CTO and former Twitter lawyer.

"Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment," the U.S. president said. "I am confident that in her new role as America's Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead."

Smith, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering at MIT, headed up Google's New Business sector for over nine years before serving as vice president of Google X. She also served as CEO of LGBT community PlanetOut, developed smartphone tech for General Magic and designed multimedia solutions for Apple's Japanese division.

Smith will direct the Obama administration's information technology policies and programs, according to John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She'll push forward the benefits of information technology and communications across the United States' economy, Holdren said.

Macgillivray, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard's School of Law, will utilize his expertise to develop policies and initiative concerning the intellectual property, analytics, privacy and Internet polices areas on the Obama administration's agenda. Prior to Twitter, he also was deputy general counsel at Google and also worked for a Silicon Valley law firm.

"I want to personally welcome Smith and Macgillivray to the Office of Science and Technology Policy team and congratulate them on their new roles," Holden said. "I look forward to working with both of them -- and colleagues across the administration and beyond -- to continue advancing the president's technology and innovation agenda for the good of the nation."

During his time with Twitter, Macgillivray became known as an opponent of Internet censorship. However, it may be the speed of which information flows across the Internet that first faces he and Smith as they settle into their new roles.

With the Federal Communications Commission closing in on its Sept. 15 deadline for the final rounds of comments on net neutrality policy, the Obama administration has spoken out against rules that would allow the growth of Internet "fast lanes."

Smith replaces Todd Park, who had served as CTO since 2009 and recently stepped down to take the position of technology adviser for Obama.

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