Archive: Jun 2015

Being part of the solution (aka screw secession)

Yes, Silicon Valley does amazing things – creates and changes industries, impacts people, imagines the future. Given that, one can either look at the rest of the country as a burden or an opportunity. One can either say “screw them, let’s move forward alone” or say “let’s help everyone move forward”.

The latter path is, obviously, much more painful.

What I love about the tech folks working in Obama’s “Stealth Startup” is that they are choosing that path.

Oh, and the stories about Weaver. “First name is Matthew,” Weaver says, sitting on a cheap couch in a makeshift office near the White House. But no one calls him Matthew, he explains, since there are too many Matthews in any given room at any given moment. Even among D.C.’s new technorati, people view Weaver as someone separate from the fray. Maybe it’s because he once lived in a camper in the Google parking lot without going home for an entire year. Maybe it’s because he was the one guy who, if he didn’t answer an emergency call, the whole search engine might go down. Or maybe it’s because in a group of brilliant engineers, Weaver, as one of his new colleagues puts it, stands out as “someone who is, like, superhero-fucking-brilliant.” Recruited from California last year by these guys Mikey and Todd to work on the broken Healthcare.gov website, Weaver decided this year to stay in D.C. and leave behind the comfort of Google and a big pile of stock options. He recalls it in terms that suggest the transfixing power of a holy pilgrimage. “That”—he says, meaning the Healthcare.gov fix-it work—”changed my life in a profound way. It made it feel like all my accomplishments in my professional life meant very little compared to getting millions of people through the hospital doors for the first time. And that made me see that I could never do any other work without a public impact.” Weaver now spends his days in the guts of the Veterans Administration, helping the agency’s digital team upgrade their systems and website—and trying to reboot the way government works. As an early test to see if he could challenge the VA’s protocol, he insisted, successfully, that his official government title be Rogue Leader. And so he is: Rogue Leader Weaver.