There have been reports that President-elect Barack Obama has his list of potential candidates for U.S. CTO down to two people: Cisco Systems CTO Padmasree Warrior and Washington, D.C. CTO Vivek Kundra. Go ahead and try to figure out how you feel about these possible choices, but it's pretty hard because a) It's still not very clear what the nation's CTO will do and b) The candidates seem so different that in Kundra's hands, the job would seem to become something much different than it would be in Warrior's hands.
Warrior is well-known in broad technology circles, having also been CTO of Motorola. She has been a frequent public speaker and comes off as a philosophical, high-level strategist. While she's not terribly specific, she is engaging and fairly charismatic. This is all to the public eye, of course, and perhaps that's all the CTO job will be about-though many people would like it to be something more tangible and influential. If the job involves meeting with a lot of other technology executives, maybe she's a decent choice. She also has had responsibility for thousands of engineers. Warrior, in her mid-40s, has been hounded by critics, some of whom seem to be a bit obsessed with what she does all day, though it's not clear that they are following other CTOs' work habits just as closely.
Kundra seems like more of a government-seasoned administrator, though he is only in his early 30s. He has state government experience prior to working in Washington, D.C. He is not as well known as Warrior, at least in telecom circles, but was rumored to already be working with Obama's transition team. He also reportedly has earned kudos for open source and cloud computing initiatives at the municipal level. He has had responsibility for hundreds of staffers. To whatever extent the job is to really apply technology tools to government processes, or to work in a public service role on issues like universal broadband, Kundra appears a strong choice.
Again, we still don't know much yet about what the CTO will be doing. Hopefully, Obama does.
The U.S. CTO job has mystified thus far
Wasn't Vinton Cerf considered for the job?