Thursday, October 9, 2014
President Obama Stresses Jobs, Education In First Silicon Beach Visit
In the first time that President Barack Obama has paid a special visit to the epicenter of Southern California's high tech industry, the President spoke for over an hour to an audience of entrepreneurs at Cross Campus, the Santa Monica coworking space, touching on topics around providing an infrastructure for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Obama also walked around talking with entrepreneurs at Cross Campus about their startups--at times, pitching those startups' businesses better than their founders--and discussing issues they were thinking about, and answering questions about his position on different issues of entrepreneurs and Millenials.
Citing the legacy of the many high tech companies founded by immigrants, including Google and Intel, President Obama also pledged to continue his efforts on immigration reform, in particular, saying that he may use his authority as the executive branch to make some changes to fix issues in the immigration system, potentially fixing issues in H1-B visas which are used heavily by high tech companies to hire workers--even without the cooperation of Republicans in Congress--although he said any immigration reform made in the executive branch would not be as effective as could be done through legislation.
Obama also stressed that government needs to do more to help provide a "platform for success" to entrepreneurs and, in particular, Millenials, who he said no longer have the luxury of things like a lifetime job, pensions, or stable healthcare, saying that--even though entrepreneurs are doing things that are "really interesting and exciting", at some point they have to worry about "how to pay for their kids college education, and how to make sure you can retire with some security." Obama explained, "What we want to do is build portability into the system, and flexibility into the system, to duplicate the security you had in the previous generation."
The visit was also a huge opportunity for local startups to get some visibility. President Obama talked with half a dozen different entrepreneurs, including chatting with Matthias Kurwig of Enervee about the company's energy efficiency score, Ramen Bastani of Healthvana about the company's health applications, Jeffrey Chernick at RideAmigos, Kristina 'Z' Holly on LA's role in manufacturing, and many others.
Obama is on a two day tour of Los Angeles, where is he expected to attend a political fundraiser at the home of actress Gwyneth Paltrow tonight, and to announce the creation of the San Gabriel Mountain National Moment on Friday.