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John Doerr's advice to Obama: Take Bill Joy

The VC endorses the idea of appointing a CTO for the country who could focus on energy and green tech. Also, some tips for entrepreneurs on surviving the downturn.

SAN FRANCISCO--In an interview with John Heilemann at the Web 2.0 Summit here today, Kleiner-Perkins VC John Doerr, formerly a Hilary Clinton supporter, relayed the technology advice he would have for President-elect Obama.

As Heilemann noted, Obama has announced that he will look at appointing a chief technology officer to the United States. He asked Doerr about that, and unsurprisingly, Doerr thought it was a "great idea, long overdue."

John Doerr at Web 2.0 Summit CNET Networks / Josh Lowensohn

And who would be a good choice for the job? Doerr recommended, "Bill Joy. Or if not Bill Joy, then inventor Danny Hillis." Doerr said he would miss Bill Joy from the Kleiner-Perkins team, but he seemed willing to make the sacrifice.

Doerr said the top three things this new CTO should focus on are energy, green technology, and "more basic research."

"The most important thing," Doerr said, that Obama needs to do is, "kick-start a huge amount of innovation and research in energy."

"We invest less than a billion dollars a year in energy, compared to $32 billion in health care." About energy, he said, "It's the challenge for the generation, it's the scourge of the economy."

Of course, a very big part of technology advancement is education. So, Doerr said, "I would create a specific program to double the number of engineers we graduate in the U.S. from 30,000 a year to 60,000." India, he said, graduates 300,000 engineers a year.

Also, regarding foreign students educated in the U.S., we should, "staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who graduates with a degree in the physical sciences in the U.S."

Finally, he'd like to see DARPA restored to pure research, and move its focus off of "mission-based" projects.

Doerr also relayed 11 things entrepreneurs need to do in this economy. It was the same list he gave at a Venture Beat conference last month, with this addition: Cut once. Cut deeper than you think you need to, but only do it once.

See below for video, split into two segments, of Doerr's appearance (courtesy of TechWeb):

Video: Doerr on energy, R&D, a federal CTO, and more.

Video: Doerr on start-ups and the economy