On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Facebook was considering hiring Robert Gibbs — one of President Obama's closest advisers, and, until recently, the White House press secretary — to help the company prepare for a blockbuster initial public offering planned for 2012. Gibbs, who has a reputation as a technophobe, would presumably help the company develop a clear communications strategy and develop strategies to allay privacy concerns, which have multiplied in recent years. For Gibbs, the financial upside to a Facebook job is clear: He would stand to make millions of dollars in salary and shares. Should Facebook hire him?
Facebook doesn't need Gibbs's skills: The idea that Gibbs could lend Facebook credibility is laughable, says Jon Friedman at MarketWatch, since "Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of acolytes, has credibility to burn." In any case, the Wall Street money managers who will be influential in the company's public offering only care about profit, and it remains unclear how a former White House spokesman could help on that front. Gibbs may be a "decent, sincere publicist." But Facebook doesn’t need his help "to put the company over the top in its IPO."
"Facebook doesn't need Robert Gibbs at all"
The tech giant could benefit from Gibbs's D.C. friendships: As Facebook "finds itself under increased scrutiny" in Washington, it makes sense to hire Beltway insiders like Gibbs, who offer access to important political decision-makers, says Cecilia Kang at The Washington Post. The company recently hired Marne Levine, a former Obama official, as its vice president of global public policy, and directly responded to privacy issues by having a former ACLU privacy expert testify in Congress on its behalf. Following in their footsteps, Gibbs "would be a valuable asset not only because of his connections, but because of his deep knowledge of the administration's style and thinking and his expertise in government."
"Facebook and Gibbs? Another key hire for company under fire"
Don't forget Obama — this affects him, too: "If Gibbs does take the job, it will draw a line between the president and the tech industry as the election approaches," says Nitasha Tiku at New York — reminiscent of the Bush administration's ties to Big Oil, though less lucrative. That could actually hurt the president. If Obama is tangentially associated with Silicon Valley, he "better hope the coming wave of tech IPOs don't make a popping sound once they hit the public markets."
"Mark Zuckerberg wants Robert Gibbs to become Facebook's own press secretary"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- Why Peter Capaldi has a bigger challenge than any Doctor Who in history
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why Halbig and the conservative war on ObamaCare will fail
Subscribe to the Week