Washington's Latest Overture to Silicon Valley


Shared from Inc. Magazine

Penny Pritzker might be best known as a Chicago billionaire who's founded five companies, which have created thousands of jobs. But for the past eight months, she's been serving in Washington as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Monday, she served a slightly different, temporary (and unofficial) role: Goodwill Ambassador to Silicon Valley.

New Doors to Data 

Opening her tour of the San Francisco Bay Area's business community, which will include visits to the offices of Facebook and eBay, Pritzker spoke at the Plug and Play Tech Center, a startup accelerator in Sunnyvale, California, where hundreds of startups--including PayPal and Dropbox--have gotten their start. 

She was nothing if not encouraging about the government's attitude toward the startup ecosystem to the room of entrepreneurs, investors, and would-be entrepreneurs.

"With the country moving at warp speed toward the 'Internet of Everything,' our goal at the Department of Commerce as a service organization is to support you, whether you are a researcher, inventor, entrepreneur, mentor, or investor," she said.

It's not her first time extending an olive branch from the Obama administration to entrepreneurs. Since taking office, she's visited the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a finance startup Dwolla in Iowa, and an incubator called 1776 in Washington, D.C. She has also stopped by the Detroit Auto Show and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"I saw technologies in everything from cars to thermostats to wearable health devices that will improve our lives," she said.