What does its CEO's endorsement of Obama mean for Google?

Eric Schmidt may just be angling for a Cabinet job.

Published October 21, 2008 1:50PM (EDT)

So while Google the company is officially neutral in the presidential race, its CEO, Eric Schmidt, is going to be stumping this week on behalf of Barack Obama.

Schmidt is the second high-ranking Googler to make such an endorsement, with Vint "I actually co-invented the Internet" Cerf making a similar endorsement last week.

But the question remains: What does Google or Schmidt himself stand to gain from backing Obama? Probably quite a bit.

Aside from being the text-message candidate, and the video game ad candidate, it's clear that Obama fundamentally understands technology like you and I do, and not like Grandpa McCain is trying to. That's why Obama said, way back in November 2007, that he wants to create a Cabinet-level position of chief technology officer.

From the Obama campaign Web site:

Obama will appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.

Given Google's prominence as the preeminent all-around tech company that everyone is trying to beat (or join), it stands to reason that the company would favor a tech-savvy administration.

Plus, heck, this is liberal Northern California we're talking about, which is why it doesn't surprise me that the Wall Street Journal also reports that "Google employees have contributed $487,355 to Sen. Obama's campaign and $20,600 to Sen. McCain's as of Aug. 31. Mr. Schmidt hasn't donated to either."

Further, it seems that Google clearly wants to expand its influence in Washington, what with its trying to get the Google-Yahoo ad deal past the Department of Justice and Schmidt's speech earlier this month at the Commonwealth Club that outlined a massive new ambitious energy plan.

Finally, Schmidt himself has been bandied about as a possible name for the Obama administration CTO position. Others include Cerf and bigwigs such as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.

If the Schmidt endorsement doesn't work out, at least Obama also has the support of the Tampa Bay Rays, which in a battleground state may be more valuable.

By Cyrus Farivar

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