The news of Andrew McLaughlin’s departure from Google to work as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the Obama administration just came out in the New York Times. The article mentions that there are critics who believe that this move will benefit Google as a company. I have a response to this criticism, but before I make them I would like to disclose that I am a friend of Andrew McLaughlin and that Google is an investor in Fon, the company that I am CEO of. Regardless of these facts I have chosen to write this post as it is valid not just for this case but for anyone who moves from industry to government.

In general I don’t understand why journalists believe that a move from industry to government is somehow very different from a move from industry to industry. If Andrew McLaughlin had moved from Google to Cisco, Cisco’s CEO would not hire him thinking that he will promote the interests of Google at Cisco. When a banker moves from Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley, a direct competitor, people at Morgan Stanley consider this a great success. And it is a similar success for the Obama team to have convinced Andrew to leave his fantastic job at Google to serve the US Government. As Andrew promoted the interests of Google when he was at Google, he will now protect the interests of the American people working for the US government. And we should all be happy for that. I can’t think of a better person than Andrew to do this job.

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Dave Lerner on May 30, 2009  · 

I agree with your main point but would actually go a step further. I would argue that nowadays such a move may actually hinder the interests of Google, (or perhaps more accurately, diminish any “access” Google already had to the upper eschelons of government), as there will be such a high level of importance placed on “appearances of impropriety”, COI, etc.

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Lasse Enersen on May 30, 2009  · 

All people working for government should of course protect the interests of American people, but government at some cases protecting special interest groups instead is a reality too, right? Andrew McLaughlin may not be one of the latter kind, but it’s healthy for the media to look at all sides of corporate-to-government activity.

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marco on May 30, 2009  · 

It is NOT the same to move from industry to government than to go from industry to industry. In a similar way it is not the same to be a lawyer than to be a judge. I would say that government, more than anywhere has to have the best and the chances the best come from successful companies is high. And this is why, if adequately supervised, I am sure McLaughlin will do a great job.
The more scary trend is the strong one in the other direction. Ex-Government officials moving to the industy to lobby or to consult on how to take advantage of the loopholes of the same offices they ran, e.g. anti-terror. This really cannot be good for all society, right?

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exFONERO on May 30, 2009  · 

aahh white house turns google. we could expect this. – i guess they will change white house color into google colours soon. and also, reading this post, i guess, soon visitors of the prez 1st will have 2 login @fon before receiving their admission tickets. or, this would be varsavsky like, codes 4 2 hrs of free surfing will be printed on2 admission tickets 4 white house visitors. maybe you will invite mr mclaughlin 2 venezia again….

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