Silicon Valley Roars Up an Arms Race for Washington Power

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has just nabbed Larry Summers for the board of Square, his latest tech start-up. In case anyone thinks they’re mistaken, that really is Larry Summers — former Treasury Secretary, ex-president of Harvard (the one who couldn’t live down a no-confidence vote after denigrating women’s aptitude for science) and very recent Obama economic advisor. As for Square, it’s an app for electronic payments through mobile devices, and a company that’s been around only since last year.

Square calls San Francisco home and was founded by Dorsey and Jim McKelvey in 2010. Currently, its rumored valuation passes the $1 billion mark. Keith Rabois, with ties to Paypal and LinkedIn, is Square’s chief operating officer; Roel of Botha, of Sequoia Capital, and Vinod Khosla, Sun Microsystems co-founder, are on the board.

Summer’s entry into the tech start-up world is likely to have struck many as startlingly unexpected. However, as an arms race for political clout has clearly erupted along the greenback pastures of the Silicon Valley, the move is most definitely anything but fluky. For its score, Facebook most recently set up its own team of Washington lobbyists and hired a former White House press secretary (Joe Lockhart) to be its vice president of global communications.

With undoubtedly strategic blandness, Mr. Dorsey provided the following public welcome to Summers: “We are proud to have Larry join our board and we welcome his insight and decades of leadership to our growing company…Square is at a key point in our trajectory and we know Larry will contribute tremendous wisdom and expertise toward our continued success.”

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