The decision by Dropbox to add former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice to its board, as reported by Businessweek, is just the latest sign of increasing ties between Washington and tech.
Apple had former Vice President Al Gore on its board. Vivek Kundra, the nation’s first chief information officer, went to Salesforce.com to become executive vice president of emerging markets.
It isn’t just a prestige move by companies. Startups and young private firms like Dropbox have to have an international strategy almost from birth. Dropbox’s interest in China and other emerging markets is likely behind the Rice appointment, TechCrunch said. Similarly, Square, another private, fast-growing firm, hired Demetrios Marantis, the former Obama administration trade representative, to lead the company’s international government, regulatory and policy work.
Since leaving Washington, Rice has been working with the tech industry. In 2012, she teamed up with Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, and Stephen Hadley, the former White House national security advisor, to create a consultancy firm, RiceHadleyGates. They partnered with Khosla Ventures to advise firms on expanding into international markets, reported Fortune.
Valleywag and others note that Rice, also a former national security adviser, helped to implement the wiretapping and surveillance programs that tech companies like Dropbox are struggling with. Someone has started a campaign to ask Dropbox to drop Rice.
Businessweek quotes Rice, who addresses the issue:
As a country, we are having a great national conversation and debate about exactly how to manage privacy concerns…I look forward to helping Dropbox navigate it.
Above: Condoleezza Rice at the 2014 Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. (David Cannon/Getty Images)