As you likely know by now, after attending a fundraiser in Atherton on October 21 for Kamala Harris, President Obama went to dinner at the home of Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue. The event (overseen by event planner Robert Fountain, with catering by Taste’s Margaret Teskey), was attended by local friends and supporters such as Marc Benioff and Pamela Joyner.
We decided to take this as an opportunity to look back at the chain of events that led to this special evening. So we begin our latest “SFLashback” in the year 1992, when the Internet was largely a fantasy, Marissa Mayer an ambitious teenager, and Barack Obama a young man just beginning his path to the Presidency.
October 1, 1992:
Hot on the campaign trail in October 1992, Senator Al Gore stops off at Wausau West High School in Wisconsin, where he delivers a speech addressing racial strife that had been a problem at the school.
According to reports at the time, Gore urges teens to fight racism and “lead the way” to change America. “We must stand for the proposition that racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds can not only get along but thrive and prosper by drawing strength from diversity,” he says.
Among the 3,000 students at the school is 17-year-old Marissa Ann Mayer, who then has her eye on becoming a doctor. But the World Wide Web is less than a year old, and the expansion of the Internet is to dramatically change the life plans of many young people, including young Marissa’s. Thanks to Senator Gore’s creation of the “High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991” Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina will in three months release Mosaic, the world’s first global internet browser.
Just a four-hour drive to the south, 31-year-old Barack Obama is then wrapping up his work on Illinois’ “Project Vote,” a campaign that ends up registering 150,000 African Americans in Illinois to vote. At the same time, he is preparing for a major milestone in his life – his October 3, 1992 marriage to Michelle Robinson.
“We understood that together they were going to be so much more than they would have been individually,” a friend later recalls. And indeed, within a few moths, Obama is seriously at work on his first book, the memoir “Dreams from My Father,” which brings him to national attention.
June 23, 1999:
Barack Obama is serving his second term (of four) as state Senator for the 13th District of Illinois.
Marissa Mayer begins working at a company called Google, which had been formed just nine months earlier in the garage of Susan Wojcicki, a friend of someone who was then dating Google co-founder Sergey Brin (Susan soon began working at the company, and would be ranked by Fortune magazine in 2010 as 43 in a list of the 50 most powerful women in business.) Marissa is the company’s first female engineer, but eventually takes on major responsibilities. As Craig Silverstein, Google’s first employee, would later say: “Marissa was hired for a programming job… Now you look at her, and she’s the one deciding what we do.”
After outgrowing two previous locations, Google moves its headquarters from Palo Alto to Mountain View. The new Googleplex would host numerous leaders of culture, business and politics during their visits to Silicon Valley, among them, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who was then running for the United States Senate. Marissa Mayer meets Senator Obama for the first time during this visit. Obama later recalled thinking at the time that Google “spoke to the….American idea, that if we’re innovating, if people have the tools to let their imaginations run, then there’s nothing we can’t do in this country.”
October 21, 2010:
Hot on the campaign trail in October 2010, President Barack Obama stops off at the Palo Alto home of Marissa Mayer and husband Zachary Bogue.
“Tonight is really about camaraderie, as well as about optimism,” Marissa says. “These are two traits that have really drawn a lot of us to the president.”
Eighteen years after Al Gore urged the teenagers of West Wausau High to “lead the way” in making America a more racially harmonious country, one of them has grown to not only help elect the first black President, but to have him at her house for dinner.
So much has happened in those 18 years (did you know that the first text message was sent in 1993?), that it would be impossible to even list the highlights here. But for the really curious, you can find it all online. You know how…