Google CEO Eric Schmidt has taken himself out of the running to be the United States' first chief technology officer.
"I love working at Google, and I'm very happy to stay at Google, so the answer is no," Schmidt said Friday when queried on the subject by CNBC host Jim Cramer during an appearance on his television show. (In a New York Times interview published Saturday, he also said, "I am extremely happy serving the shareholders of Google as the CEO, so I have no interest in serving as a government employee.") Schmidt then quickly changed the subject by steering the conversation toward reports that Microsoft was trying to steal Verizon's search deal from Google.
Schmidt, who campaigned on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama, has been advising the Obama campaign on technology and energy matters, and is part of Obama's 17-member Transition Economic Advisory Board.
As my colleague Declan McCullagh notes, it's not an easy job to assume:
Obama wants the CTO to "ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies, and services for the 21st century," plus protecting the security of .gov computer networks. That's a pretty tall task for one person.
So, if Schmidt has excused himself, who else is up to the challenge? Internet pioneer Vint Cerf has been suggested as a candidate. Google's chief Internet evangelist publicly supported Obama, primarily because of his position on Net neutrality. But if Cerf's boss at Google took a pass, will Cerf be comfortable accepting the position?
Ex-regulator Reed Hundt has also been suggested as a candidate for the position.