Google, Red Hat represent tech at Obama jobs summit

Among 100 invitees to Obama jobs summit, only Google's Eric Schmidt and Red Hat's Jim Whitehurst appear to be representing the technology industry. Here's why.

President Obama is gathering 100 leaders from across the U.S. for his jobs summit in Washington on Thursday to brainstorm how to create new jobs.

While the list of invitees is heavy on academics, labor unions, and business, it appears only two people from technology made an early invitation list: Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat.

FedEx. Yes. Nucor. Yes. But no Microsoft. No Oracle. No Salesforce.com. What gives?

Yes, Schmidt is a key advisor to Obama. But his invitation, along with Whitehurst's, could have a lot to do with the fact that Google and Red Hat, unlike many of their peers, are actively hiring.

Red Hat and Google have thrived through the recession, perhaps suggesting that they have a clue as to what it will take to create new jobs in a tough economy, one that has seen 23 straight months of job losses.

Intriguingly, Google's hiring may be crimped more by a desire not to aggregate all of the best and brightest than an inability to do so, as evinced by Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz's comments at Supernova this week.

When I asked Whitehurst on Wednesday what he thought the two companies had in common, he was quick to respond: "open source."

It's an interesting observation. While the two companies use open source in different ways, their business models are actually more similar than different, and both depend on open source.

As I've written , both Google and Red Hat (along with Facebook and other new-school "software" companies) depend upon and help to create abundance--of code, of Web sites, of information--and then make money by filtering that abundance.

It's a model that works, and it's a model that heavily depends upon and contributes to open-source software.

It would be going too far to suggest that open source is the critical component of any successful technology business today, especially as just about every company now includes it in their offerings in some way. Plus, CIOs have discovered other ways to stretch IT budgets and keep their workers on the payroll, as Gartner advises.

But the mentality of open source--more with less, sharing code and expertise--does seem to be a hallmark of successful technology companies, and particularly at Google and Red Hat.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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