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Nov. 14, 2020, 3:58 p.m. EST

Incoming White House chief of staff Klain has ties to tech world

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By Jon Swartz

Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain’s deep ties to the tech world make him the first major bold face name from the industry to join the Biden administration.

He won’t be the last. Far from it.

The 59-year-old Klain left his post as then-Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff after two years in 2011 to join venture-capital investment firm Revolution Capital, founded by former AOL chief executive and founder Steve Case. As part of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Klain traversed the country, promoting businesses in Midwest cities like Indianapolis that were overlooked by traditional venture capital.

“Ron has been instrumental in building Revolution into a major venture capital investment firm,” Case said in a statement Wednesday. “We applaud Ron’s decision to return again to public service, and wish him all the best as he takes on this task.”

Since 2017, Klain also served as chair of the advisory board for investment firm Higher Ground Labs, which is focused on technology for progressive organizations and campaigns. It is backed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and leading investors Chris Sacca and Ron Conway.

Klain heads a long list of tech sector luminaries to join Team Biden. The transition team has more than 20 people with tech ties who will help decide who is hired at federal agencies for the Biden administration. Many of them are former Obama Administration officials who joined tech companies as public policy experts.

The list includes Nicole Wong, a former executive of Alphabet Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -0.47% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.38% Google and Twitter Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -3.30% who will shape the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Mark Schwartz, Amazon.com Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.11% Amazon Web Services’ enterprise strategist, who will advise the Office of Management and Budget; Nicole Isaac, LinkedIn’s director of public policy for North America, who will help review the Treasury Department; Matt Olsen, Uber Technology Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER -4.10% trust and security officer, who is advising the Intelligence Community; and Ann Dunkin, Dell Technologies Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/203822527/composite DELL -1.88% chief technology officer, an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency.

A plethora of tech names underscores their familiarity with Biden, who as vice president under president Barrack Obama was part of a tech-friendly administration.

But times have changed — Big Tech has been demonized by both parties for its unprecedented influence, and is the focus of federal investigations of Google, Amazon, Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.14% and Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.28% , and a Federal Trade Commission action against Facebook is expected as early as this month, according to reports .

Highlighting fears among privacy advocates is a Financial Times report that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt being under consideration to lead a technology task force. Schmidt, who was Alphabet executive chairman until 2017 and a technical adviser until May , has strenuously denied that Google committed any wrongdoing in its business practices.

Meanwhile, three people who recently worked for Schmidt — Martha Gimbel, senior manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures; and Victor Garcia and David Holmes from Rebellion Defense, a company backed by Schmidt — are on the Biden transition team too.

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