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Cory Booker: Silicon Valley Wants Its Own Tame Black President
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August 07, 2013, 09:28 PM
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Cory Booker: Silicon Valley Wants Its Own Tame Black President

With Barack Obama having Wall Street`s back over the last five years (i.e., virtually no prosecutions for the events leading up to 2008), it`s only natural that Silicon Valley leaders have been thinking about getting their own tame black President, too: namely, Cory Booker, a former Stanford football player, whose job as mayor of Newark makes it easy for him to hit the national broadcasts out of New York City.

I haven`t paid too much attention to Booker, but he seems like a more prepossessing personality than Obama, so the notion seems plausible that in a country with a large demand for black Presidents but a small supply of plausible ones, Booker would be worth investing money in. (A bachelor, Booker is vaguely rumored to be either gay or have a white girlfriend in Brooklyn, so it will be interesting to see what he does on the matrimonial front.)

The NYT reports:
Mr. Booker personally has obtained money for the start-up, called Waywire, from influential investors, including Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. A year after its debut, Waywire has already endured a round of layoffs and had just 2,207 visitors in June, according to Compete, a Web-tracking service. The company says it is still under development.
In June, I got more well over two orders of magnitude more unique visits.

 

Yet in a financial disclosure filed last month, Mr. Booker, 44, revealed that his stake in the company was worth $1 million to $5 million.
Woo-hoo! My 100% stake in iSteve must be worth a couple of orders of magnitude more, right?
Taken together, his other assets were worth no more than $730,000.

That revelation, with just a week left in Mr. Booker’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, shows how a few tech moguls and entrepreneurs, many of them also campaign donors, not only made a financial bet on the mayor’s political future but also provided the brainpower and financing to help create a company that could make him very rich.

Waywire has also provided jobs for associates of Mr. Booker: the son of a top campaign supporter and his social media consultant, who is now on his Senate campaign staff.

The company has a goal: making it easy to “collect, curate and share” videos from across the Web. But much about its operations and Mr. Booker’s role as chairman appears ill defined.

Mr. Booker declined to answer questions about the details of Waywire’s finances, including what percentage of the company he currently owns. A spokesman said Mr. Booker had invested some of his own money in the company but refused to say how much.

... The value of his shares could rise significantly, analysts say, should the company outrace competitors now puzzling over how to let users sift through the billions of Web video clips to find those that they want to watch. “Curation is the next big thing to happen to video,” said James L. McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Off topic, but I only vaguely get this whole "curation" mania. I don`t recall dreaming when I was a little boy that I would grow up to be a museum curator. Is it like the urge to create a mix tape in order to try to inflict your musical tastes on others?
Mr. Booker has made a national reputation in seven years as the chief executive of Newark, New Jersey’s largest city and one of the country’s poorest. But his involvement in founding, financing and promoting a private business highlights the significance of his other constituency in the tech industry, which is seeking a bigger voice in national policy in Washington. ...
This spring, the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, and the power couple Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen held a fund-raiser for him.

And as a social media enthusiast, with more than 30,000 Twitter posts, Mr. Booker has cast himself as an ambassador between the high-tech world and his beleaguered city. His aides noted that he had leveraged his relationships to Newark’s benefit, including a pledge of $100 million to the city’s schools from Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder.

... Ms. Ross suggested in an interview that she saw in Mr. Booker a kindred social media spirit. She said she has wondered how the civil rights movement might have been different had the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had access to Twitter.

... There is no question, however, that Mr. Booker’s star power has brought attention: Mr. Booker impressed an audience at the South by Southwest conference in March in Austin, Tex., in which he touted Waywire as a way to empower the politically disenfranchised. Other celebrity connections have helped the company: Waywire has put Andrew Zucker, 14, the son of Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, on its advisory board and given him stock options.

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