The news of Andrew McLaughlin's departure from Google to work as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the Obama administration just came out in the New York Times. The article mentions that there are critics who believe that this move will benefit Google as a company. I have a response to this criticism, but before I make them I would like to disclose that I am a friend of Andrew McLaughlin and that Google is an investor in Fon, the company that I am CEO of. Regardless of these facts I have chosen to write this post as it is valid not just for this case but for anyone who moves from industry to government.
In general I don't understand why journalists believe that a move from industry to government is somehow very different from a move from industry to industry. If Andrew McLaughlin had moved from Google to Cisco, Cisco's CEO would not hire him thinking that he will promote the interests of Google at Cisco. When a banker moves from Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley, a direct competitor, people at Morgan Stanley consider this a great success. And it is a similar success for the Obama team to have convinced Andrew to leave his job at Google to serve the US Government. As Andrew promoted the interests of Google when he was at Google, he will now protect the interests of the American people working for the US government. And we should all be happy for that. I can't think of a better person than Andrew to do this job.