It's official (almost): President Obama plans to name his top tech guru, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Obama on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Genachowski. Providing there are no last-minute hitches, a formal announcement and Senate confirmation hearing will follow. That process could take a few months.
Genachowski, 46, is the architect of Obama's hugely successful drive to use the Internet to raise funds for the primary and general election campaigns. He also pushed the idea of using wireless as a way to connect with supporters.
A lawyer by training — he and Obama were Harvard classmates — Genachowski is a venture capitalist with long ties to Silicon Valley. He spent eight years at IAC/InterActive, controlled by Hollywood powerhouse Barry Diller, and was a law clerk for two Supreme Court justices. He later served as chief counsel to former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, a Clinton appointee.
That unique combination of experiences will serve him well, says Blair Levin, a managing partner at Stifel Nicolaus.
Genachowski "understands that you have to understand Washington" to get things done at the FCC, says Levin, another former adviser to Hundt.
"But you also better understand the markets and technology — what can lead to innovation and what can slow down innovation." On that score, he says, Genachowski is a slam dunk.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Commerce subcommittee chairman of Communications, Technology and the Internet, also had praise for the likely FCC chief.
Genachowski "brings the right mix of public service and relevant private-sector experience to a commission which will face a host of challenges," Kerry said in a prepared statement.
Obama has made it clear that he thinks the USA needs to do a better job in getting broadband to rural America. Getting the cooperation of carriers, however, hasn't been easy. FCC attempts to use wireless broadband to help drive broadband penetration in these areas has also been met with resistance.