May 25, 2007
Condoleezza Rice Tours Silicon Valley
By Mary Anne OstromStaff
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice toured Hewlett-Packard's lab today during a two-day swing through the state, which has been billed as a "home visit."
She arrived at the Four Seasons in East Palo Alto for a lunch with two dozen valley executives and trade officials after a quick stop to check out the Tesla Roadster at Moffett Field. At the lunch, both she and Alexander Downer, an Australian foreign minister, who is joining Rice on the tour, said they were impressed with the car that is advertised as capable of traveling 200 miles on a full charge.
"Like Condi, I enjoyed the sports car very much," Downer said, drawing laughter from a roomful of Silicon Valley executives.
At HP, in response to a question about her concerns over the breakdown of the truce in Lebanon, Rice said the government has been "very much trying to do the right thing to protect its population against the extremists who would, of course, sow instability and discord there." She said she hoped the Lebanese government can handle "these extremists," adding "it's just another example of extremists in the Middle East trying to destabilize Democratic governments."
Rice spoke to reporters outside the former offices of HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard, mentioning her friendship with them.
"What we've had a chance to do is to remember how important innovation and entrepreneurship is to global competitiveness," she said.
Rice and Downer's first stop this morning was to HP Labs in Palo Alto, with Chief Executive Mark Hurd as their tour guide. Rice served on HP's board of directors before joining the Bush administration.
She and Downer lunched with a small group of valley CEOs, sponsored by the industry lobbying group TechNet, and hosted by Floyd Kvamme, a Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist who has pushed competitiveness issues as a White House liaison. Among those at the lunch were Cisco CEO John Chambers, National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla, venture capitalist Ram Shriram, Geoff Yang of RedPoint Ventures, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and TechNet CEO and President Lezlee Westine, a former Bush White House aide.
Rice got a glimpse of HP's new products, including a state-of- the-art teleconferencing system called Halo, which company officials acknowledged they hoped to convince the federal government to buy.
Her final stop was scheduled for James Flood School in Menlo Park, home of the Center for a New Generation, a program she founded with her late father founded 16 years ago. It offers after-school and summer programs for children in the Ravenswood City School District. The Center for a New Generation helps prepare students to succeed in college-preparation classes.
Rice began the program when she was a political science professor at Stanford University and her father, John Wesley Rice Jr., was coordinating volunteer programs in East Palo Alto.
At the time, Condoleezza Rice said, "I believe in getting things up and running. If we could unify Germany in less than a year, we can do just as well for East Palo Alto."
Rice's stepmother, Clara Bailey Rice, was principal of the former Menlo Oaks School in Ravenswood.