Elliott's blog

A photo diary of my adventures

White House Summit


I wanted to update everyone on the recent White House Summit we held.   I’ll give you a quick summary, but if you want more details, the official press release can be found here.

On Sunday night, February 22nd I went to an Oscars party in Washington DC and met two amazing people who work in the Office of Public Liaison: David Washington and Yosi Sergant. David is the Associate Director for the Office of Public Liaison and Yosi (read about him here) is the guy who commissioned Shepard Fairey’s now famous ‘Hope’ posters and pins. See image below with Yosi in front. 


After telling David and Yosi about Summit Series we had a great idea.  The White House wanted to discuss the current economic situation and WH strategy with young entrepreneurs and company founders who have a serious economic impact.  The idea was simple: Summit Series, which hosts summits for the top young company founders and CEO’s in the world (Summit attendees are under 40 years old with an average age of 29) could host a White House Summit. 

Examples of companies with ‘serious economic impact’ are Blackboard, which did $330 million in revenues in 2008, Zappos, which did $1 billion in revneues in 2008 and Ecko Unlimitd which did $1.5 billion in revenues in 2008.  These companies, with hundreds of employees, are run by young entrepreneurs. Blackboard’s Michael Chasen is 37, Zappos’ Tony Hsieh is 34 and Ecko Unlimited’s Marc Ecko is 35.


Two weeks later, on Friday, March 6th, 35 company founders gathered in Washington DC for our White House Summit.  We met with members of the National Economic Council (Jason Furman, the Deputy Director), New Media Team (Macon Philips, the Director of New Media), Intergovermental Relations (Michael Strautmanis), Office of Public Liaison, Domestic Policy Council, and the office of Energy and Climate Change. 

Doug Imbruce (founder of theU.net) summed up the White House objectives much better than I ever could: “We are impressed that the White House is creating an ‘open source’ culture within the walls of government that invites ideas from outside. We hope this heralds a new era of collaboration between the private and public sectors.”


Above is a cool photo of Twitter’s Evan Williams and Kiva.org’s Jessica Jackley as they discussed economic policy and governmental transparency in our meeting following the White House Summit. 

Ryan Allis, Founder of iContact, wrote a nice blog post and highlighted attendee reactions following the White House Summit:

  • @ev wrote: “Lessons from today: Obama’s team: smart and committed. Learned a lot and was inspired.”


  • @saaca wrote: “The folks from the White House are sharp. Obama made it cool once again for awesome people to serve in government.”


  • @tomsshoes wrote: “Just left the meeting – pretty inspirational. The administration really does want our input, each gave their personal email addresses and encouraged dialogue.”


Above, Karmaloop Co-Founder Dina Selkoe listens as her group discusses trends in social media. Karmaloop, an online streetwear retailer, did $40 million in revenues in 2008.

Why did 35 entrepreneurs fly in from around the country (and the world) to Washington DC that Friday? From Doug Imbruce: “Our goal is to help in any way we can to pull our country out of this recession and uniting many young entrepreneurs in one place, with one vision was a great first step.”

Attendees included:

  • Twitter Co-founder and CEO Evan Williams
  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
  • Blackboard founder and CEO Michael Chasen
  • Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley
  • DailyCandy COO Catherine Levene
  • Kluster Founder and CEO Ben Kaufman
  • Ecko Enterprises founder Marc Ecko
  • Tishman Speyer Co-CEO Rob Speyer
  • Trump SVP Ivanka Trump
  • UnderCurrent Co-Founder Josh Spear
  • Venturehouse Group Founder and CEO Mark Ein
  • Mint.com founder and CEO Aaron Patzer
  • New York Observer Owner and Publisher Jared Kushner
  • Eastbanc CFO Philippe Lanier
  • Method Co-Founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry
  • MTV VP of Public Affairs Jason Rzepka
  • CAA Agent Matt Mazzeo
  • Toms Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie
  • Threadless Founder Jake Nickel
  • Karmaloop Founders Dina and Greg Selkoe
  • Niche Media Founder and CEO Jason Binn
  • Clearspring Founder and CEO Hooman Radfar
  • College Humor Co-founder Josh Abramson 


Attendees represented a wide cross section of industries. Above, the real estate industry is represented by Trump Organization’s Ivanka Trump, Kushner Companies’ Jared Kushner, and Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer.

As a 23 year old entrepreneur, I was humbled to have this opportunity.  Moving forward, the White House Summit attendees are working to implement tangible ideas and solutions, and we are specifically focusing on the following areas:

  • Economy and Stimulus
  • Education and Job Creation
  • New Media and Govermental Transparency
  • Energy and Environment

We’ll also be opening the dialogue (through a great website called Kluster) to the entire Summit community and those outside the community who have big (or small) ideas and would like to have their voices heard. 


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