Larry Irving, an assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information under President Bill Clinton, will join Hewlett-Packard Co. on Sept. 8 as vice president of global government affairs, the company announced Monday.
Mr. Irving, who oversaw the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for Mr. Clinton, has for the past 10 years headed up his own consulting firm, which offered “strategic planning and consulting services to domestic and international telecommunications and information technology companies, non-profit organizations and foundations,” as an HP news release put it. He was also “the founder and co-chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance, which advocates broadband Internet access for all Americans,” HP said.
In his new role, Mr. Irving will supervise the computer and services company’s worldwide government affairs operation from Washington. HP said he would “be responsible for shaping public policy and building relationships worldwide with government officials, community leaders, non-governmental organizations and business partners… . Mr. Irving will report to Michael Holston, HP executive vice president and general counsel, the firm said.
Mr. Irving was credited with coining the term “digital divide” and, HP said, has “broad experience in virtually all aspects of information technology.”
Notable is the level of praise Mr. Irving drew from those on the Hill, according to the HP announcement.
Veteran telecom-focused legislator, and former employer of Mr. Irving, Rep. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, stated: “Larry Irving is one of the nation’s most experienced and knowledgeable experts on technology policy. I have known Larry for more than 25 years. He was a trusted adviser when he worked on my staff; he did an excellent job running the NTIA during the Clinton administration; and I have always been impressed by his firm grasp of the issues, his outstanding political peripheral vision, and his intuitive understanding of where industry trends are heading. HP is very fortunate to have Larry on board.”
Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican and a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, added: “I am very pleased that Larry Irving is joining Hewlett-Packard in this capacity, and I look forward to working with him on information technology issues that come before the … Committee. I have known and worked with Mr. Irving for many years. He is uniquely qualified for this important position with HP. His knowledge of IT issues and the ways of Washington, D.C., are almost unparalleled.”
Mr. Irving holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University ourside Chicago and is a law graduate of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., just down the road from HP’s world headquarters. According to the biography linked above, Mr. Irving was president of the Stanford Law class of 1979.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience in a new setting with the world’s leading technology company,” Mr. Irving said in a statement released by the firm. “HP is constantly seeking new ways to use technology to solve problems and create opportunities. I want to be part of the policy discussion around that effort.”
Kellner’s take: Although HP certainly isn’t lacking for influence in Washington or just about anywhere else — being “the world’s leading technology company,” to use Mr. Irving’s words, will do that for you — it’s a smart move on the part of HP. Too many technology companies, including Microsoft circa 1991 and Google circa, well, now, have been not as quick on the uptake in learning a key lesson of Washington: You need someone here to help you navigate the shoals.