Posted by: Peter Burrows on January 23, 2008
It turns out Michael Bloomberg has been quietly courting Silicon Valley regarding a possible run at the US presidency—and that Silicon Valley, or at least a few of its moguls, is impressed.
BusinessWeek has learned that New York’s billionaire mayor was guest of honor at a dinner last summer at the home of private equity baron Sandy Robertson, of Francisco Partners. Attendees included Google CEO Sergey Brin, Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, venture capitalist Michael Moritz from Sequoia Partners and Bob Fisher, the CEO of the Gap. (This might fill in at least one day on the calendar of New York deputy mayor for government affairs Kevin Sheekey, who helped arrange the event. Sheekey is also considered Bloomberg’s top political advisor, and publications including the New York Times have been seeking his travel records for months to get a better read on the mayor’s intentions.)
For the most part, it was a fact-finding mission by Bloomberg. “He wasn’t asking for anything. He was there to meet people, and understand how people on the West Coast [were] thinking about life,” says my source. But attendees seemed impressed as Bloombeg ticked off his accomplishments in the Big Apple—from the improved bond rating to green initiatives such as a plan to plant a million trees. He also seemed to make points with his argument that the two-party system is unlikely to solve America’s most difficult problems. He said a third party was the best way to “solve pragmatic issues,” recalls my source.
Fisher, in particular, was bullish, and at one point during the meal made “a passionate plea” for Bloomberg to throw his hat into the ring. Fisher, who didn’t return a phone call seeking comment, promised to help drum up support for Bloomberg in the Bay Area. Another tech heavyweight who has heard Bloomberg’s pitch also expressed hopes that he would run. “We need somebody to dig us out of the mess we’re in. It’s about competence,” the source told BusinessWeek last month.
Bloomberg wasn’t done taking the pulse of tech-land. In December, he made a return visit that included a one-on-one session with Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
With the world’s financial markets sputtering—and with the campagin of the most pro-business candidate, Mitt Romney, sputtering as well—I’d guess Bloomberg would find Silicon Valley to be fairly friendly territory were he to join the race.