As the country holds its breath in anticipation of who will take Barack Obama’s chair in the Oval Office, the president is considering how to get his résumé into the right hands after his eight-year lease on the White House expires (tenant laws in DC are brutal). In a recent interview with Bloomberg, the president suggested that venture investment may be just the thing for his post-presidential career.
Throughout his presidency, Obama has been spectacularly tech- and small-business friendly, including memorable appearances at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, the launch of Startup America, the first-ever hackathon in the White House and a ton of other initiatives. During his presidency, he also has shown an unusually big interest in Silicon Valley and the innovation that happens in the nation’s other startup clusters.
It stands to reason, then, that once Obama has taken the vacation to end all vacations (I’m sure he could do some beach time, a margarita or two and catch up on Game of Thrones), a leap into the world of startup investing isn’t such a long stretch.
“The conversations I have with Silicon Valley and with venture capital pull together my interests in science and organization in a way I find really satisfying,” Obama, CEO of the United States, said to Bloomberg. “The work we’ve done to try to build off of breakthroughs in the human genome; the fact that now you can have your personal genome mapped for a thousand bucks instead of $100,000; and the potential for us to identify what your tendencies are, and to sculpt medicines that are uniquely effective for you. That’s just an example of something I can sit and listen and talk to folks for hours about.”
Something tells me he’s going to regret saying that; he will probably find that firstname.lastname@example.org is going to be chock-a-block with 10-slide decks from genome sequencing startups from all over the world for the foreseeable future.
That aside, I can see Obama as a great VC; running the country is all about finding advice you can trust, taking calculated risks and making decisions in the face of public opinion — and he’s gotten pretty good at fielding awfully difficult questions in the process. Not to mention that any VC firm would have the scoop of their lifetime in bringing onboard as a venture partner one of the best-known faces in the world. At the very least, I’d hazard a guess that receiving a voicemail from ex-prez Obama will ensure a call-back from most ambitious entrepreneurs.