Bernie Sanders’ website most effective, firm says

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is running the most digitally effective campaign, followed closely by Republican Ben Carson and Democrat Hillary Clinton, a Silicon Valley web optimization company argues.

Sanders, who at 74 is the oldest of the major parties’ prominent candidates, nevertheless is the tech-savviest when you factor in the number of analytics tools in use on the campaign’s website; the number of social media tools embedded on the campaign’s website; Twitter effectiveness (measured as number of followers divided by number of tweets as of Sept. 4); website load speed; website security, determined by SSL certification; and use of content delivery networks, according to Palo Alto-based Instart Logic.

Rated least savvy by these standards were Republican Jim Gilmore, Republican Mark Everson, Democrat Lincoln Chafee and Republican Lindsey Graham. Republican Carly Fiorina, the only candidate with a Silicon Valley background, ranked 11th.


Twitter launches $Cashtags for political donations

Twitter launched a new service Tuesday letting users contribute to their favorite political candidates and causes through a tweet.

The micro-blogging social media giant teamed up with its San Francisco neighbor, Square, to set up the new system.

Twitter CashtagCandidates who sign up for an account through Square Cash can tweet a unique URL, or $Cashtag, to request donations from supporters. The tweet will automatically include an image with a “contribute” button, making it easy for anyone to click to donate directly through the tweet.

Donors who see a candidate’s $Cashtag and hit the “contribute” button will be able to select a donation amount and add debit card and FEC-required information. Users then have the option to tweet the candidate’s $Cashtag to their own followers or return to where they were in Twitter.

Twitter also noted Tuesday it has developed tools like country-specific notifications to remind people to register to vote, richer Tweets that make email collection for campaigns easier, and real-time audience tailoring so advertisers can better identify and target relevant conversations.

“By partnering with Square to enable donations through Tweets, and as the 2016 election season heats up, we’ve upgraded these tools through which citizens can raise their voices to champion causes and candidates they support,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.


Newsom teams with tech to seek water solutions

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is teaming up with Silicon Valley’s Singularity University to challenge entrepreneurs around the world to come up with solutions to California’s water-supply woes, he announced Thursday.

Three winning teams will be selected as Entrepreneurs in Residence at SU Startup Labs so they can interact with Singularity University’s startup community, corporate partners and other humanitarian partnerships to develop solutions for global impact and sustainability. Three runners-up will have a chance to pitch their solutions at SU Startup Lab, giving them access to a valuable network of technological expertise and potential funders.

This challenge is open to teams from around the world and will be judged on the use of exponential technology, technical feasibility and rigor, innovation, market viability, salability, and design and utility functionality. Preference will be given to applicants that demonstrate their proof of concept in the form of a working prototype to validate their solutions. Proposals must be submitted by Sept. 15, and the winning teams will be announced by Sept. 30.

Gavin Newsom“California produces almost half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States therefore the impact of our solutions are both local, national, and global,” Newsom said in a news release. “In the spirit of the Orteig Prize of 1919, my goal in working with Singularity University is to activate the incredible talent and ingenuity of Californians and the SU global community to solve twenty-first century challenges with twenty-first century solutions.”

Newsom both is author of the 2013 book “Citizenville,” which calls on government to collaborate with private citizens in order to reap the most innovate solutions, and a candidate for governor in 2018.

Singularity University – funded by corporations including Google and located in the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field near Mountain View – provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to help people.

Rob Nail, Singularity University’s CEO and associate founder, said he can “think of no greater effort” than putting international expertise to work for solving California’s water issues. We are particularly pleased to be working with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and his team, who can provide the pipeline of leadership to insure that the winning solutions have a direct line to decision-makers and the infrastructure of California to get them quickly into practice.”


Silicon Valley applauds Kevin McCarthy’s ascent

Applause for Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ascent from House Majority Whip to Majority Leader on Thursday echoed from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley, where leaders hope for a continued return on the investment they’ve made in cultivating his attention for more than a decade.

Kevin McCarthyIt may seem counter-intuitive that a Republican from Bakersfield – whose district is among the nation’s top agricultural centers and produces more oil than Oklahoma – would be tuned in to high-tech Silicon Valley, an undeniably Democratic stronghold more than 200 miles away.

Yet as McCarthy prepares to walk a fine line in trying to both lead and reunite the House GOP, he’s seen as an ally of the region’s most influential echelons. Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, said he first met McCarthy – then a freshman Assemblyman – in 2003.

“From the moment we met he had a deep interest and curiosity about Silicon Valley,” Guardino said, and so he was invited to meet with local executives. “Almost since that time, three or four times a year, we host him here in the valley on policy because he recognizes … that Silicon Valley is integral to the state’s and nation’s success.”

Carl GuardinoFew lawmakers show that kind of enduring interest and staying power, he said, and few share another trait of McCarthy’s. “He actually listens much more than he speaks. And by listening and learning, he is then capable of leading, because he understands the challenges we face in competing globally and the impacts on policy.”

“In Silicon Valley, this is a huge compliment: He is immensely curious, and we need more curious people in Congress,” Guardino said, recalling McCarthy’s delight at having the chance to operate a robotic surgery system at Sunnyvale’s Intuitive Surgical. “He was just fascinated by it. He is fascinated by what we do here in Silicon Valley, and he wants to make sure it stays here and succeeds here.”

Intuitive Surgical President and CEO Gary Guthart said Friday that he recalls McCarthy’s “interest was really around the virtuous cycle that’s built in public-private partnerships,” given that Intuitive’s “roots were in R-and-D funding that came out of government programs.”

What started with government grants for research has led to a company that manufactures in the Bay Area with a mostly domestic supply chain, much of it from other California companies, he said. His conversation with McCarthy “was around how you keep the cycle going and not let it break down” over the decades it can take from government-funded research to marketable products.

“I was impressed with both his depth of interest and understanding, and with his willingness to come out and engage directly with us,” Guthart said.

Lots more, after the jump…
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Obama to meet with tech executives Tuesday

President Obama will meet Tuesday with executives from leading tech companies – including some notable Bay Area names – to discuss progress made in addressing the glitches and breakdowns that plagued the HealthCare.gov website, a White House official said Monday.

In addition to talking about the botched rollout of the website – the portal connecting people seeking individual insurance policies under the nation’s new health care law – Obama and the tech executives will discuss how government can better deliver information technology “to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service,” the official said.

Also on the agenda: “national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” and ways that the Obama administration can partner with the tech sector “to grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility.”

Here’s the list of tech executives expected at the meeting:

  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
  • Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix
  • Drew Houston, Founder & CEO, Dropbox
  • Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!
  • Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, Salesforce
  • Mark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, Zynga
  • Shervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa Global
  • Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, Comcast
  • Erika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedIn
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
  • Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
  • Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T
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    Local DREAMers to take part in Fwd.us hackathon

    Several Bay Area DREAMers are among the 20 who’ve been invited to join a hackathon later this month organized by Fwd.us, the lobbying group launched earlier this year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley giants.

    They’ll work next to some of the region’s top engineers and designers during the event Nov. 20-21 at LinkedIn’s Mountain View headquarters, says Fwd.us founder and president Joe Green.

    “It’s well past time that we fix our broken immigration system – which isn’t working for American families in a modern global economy,” Green wrote in a statement posted on the group’s website. “Millions of DREAMers and their families with stories just like those participating in the Hackathon wait in limbo, unable to contribute fully to their communities and having to live in constant uncertainty – and we can’t wait any longer.”

    The DREAMers will form teams with experienced mentors and collaborate on prototypes of products to aid the immigration reform movement, Green wrote, with teams starting to strategize in the next few weeks before the hackathon: 24 straight hours of coding. “Some of the top product innovators of our time will be on hand to provide guidance on projects, including Mark Zuckerberg, Drew Houston, Reid Hoffman, and Andrew Mason.”

    “Our DREAMers are each an embodiment of the pressing need for meaningful immigration reform,” Green wrote. “They come from all over the country and a variety of backgrounds, but are united by the unique challenges facing undocumented families across America. Too many of our participants have gone years without seeing a family member or have been turned down for scholarships to college based solely on their undocumented status, but their courage has spurred them to continue pursuing their dreams.”

    Follow after the jump for bios (verbatim from Fwd.us) of the Bay Area DREAMers invited to the hackathon…
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