My trip through the Clinton Global Initiative – America Meeting

On Wednesday, I was honored to participate in the CGI America meeting in Denver in a panel moderated by Bloomberg Special Correspondent Willow Bay.  Other panelists were Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Jacqueline Hinman, president and CEO, CH2M Hill, a global engineering and manufacturing firm. The title of the discussion was: A New Competitive Era: America in the World.


This was a stimulating hour as Willow navigated us through a range of topics about American competitiveness in the increasingly global economy. As the resident tech guy, I had some opinions about the lack of computer science training and programming being taught in U.S. schools. (I leaned on and promoted my friends at and their important efforts to push states and U.S. schools to include computer science as part of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] curriculum.) What I think surprises most people is that only 1 in 10 U.S. schools offer computer science classes, and when they do it often doesn’t count toward graduation. It’s unbelievable really, especially since it’s not news that we have a supply shortage in the area of computer science and engineering, impacting most tech companies.  This led to a discussion about the need for immigration reform to allow qualified workers into this country to fill these jobs, and help fuel even greater growth and innovation.  I’ve long supported the simple idea that we should staple a green card to every PhD earned in this country.

Geekwire’s John Cook tuned in via webcast and captured some of the discussion in a post.

After our panel, former President Bill Clinton joined Willow for a one-on-one discussion.  I had a great vantage sitting in the front row watching one of the rhetorical masters of our time.

While this was my first exposure to CGI, I was impressed with the format and caliber of attendees, and the emphasis on commitments and follow up. After all, it’s important to have these conversations, but it’s more important to fix the problems and address the barriers that inhibit progress. I like the fact CGI is focused on being more than a forum, but a platform to create solutions across industries, and across the aisles. So far, it seems to be working.

The replay of the panel conversation can be found below:

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  • Bruce Jessup


    Nick asks the right question in his Pitchforks piece;
    but he poses it to the wrong group. Your fellow plutocrats won’t make it
    happen, only the public can.

    You and Robert Hohman started Glassdoor with a
    thought experiment about the transparency of employee evaluations. Take the
    same approach with public policy. Build a database of satisfaction and dissatisfaction
    from the public at large about all realms of public policy. Run the gamut from
    the community level to the Capitol. And then use all that real time data to
    shape the narrative and constantly hammer policy makers. Give the next middle
    class (millennials and the generations to follow – 40% of eligible voters
    by 2020) the tools to create their own constructs:

    Creating sustainable
    public policy for the next middle class

    The “disruption model” works when there is limited
    transparency, a need, and the public is not allowed to make their own informed
    decisions….nothing is more opaque than policy-making. Charitable trusts and
    Foundations, the current models used by your fellow zillionaires to effect
    policy, I would argue, are ineffectual. During the current cycle, the $250M the
    Koch’s are putting in and the $100M that Steyer will counter with and the ….
    don’t result in change because the public doesn’t realize that they have skin
    in the game. You’re just Titans tilting at windmills.

    There is a business model in monetizing the data. But more
    importantly, there is power to shape the nation’s narrative and truly influence
    how policy is made… and from that you will earn an unassailable legacy and the
    gratitude of a generation of voters. When you’re in the dark, you don’t need an
    illuminated path to find your way out, you just need a lantern swinging in the
    distance. Pitchforks will allow the middle class to find its own way and
    save itself.

    Do you have 15 minutes? I can meet you at your convenience.
    And I am confident you will not spend a better 15 minutes this year.

    Bruce Jessup


  • Bruce Jessup

    Allow Seattle City Light, a publicly owned Utility, to offer an option to it customers of a voluntary 1 cent / kWhour on top of their electricity bill as a contribution from them to help fund CSCI education in all Seattle schools. Even with a penny raise, we would still have the cheapest electricity rates in the country. Call it the “Contribution from Cloud City – C cubed.” Given SCL’s 2013 revenue of $2.3B, and an avg residential rate of $.085/kWh, for every 10% of SCL customer participation, there would be nearly $30M of annual revenue.

  • Bruce Jessup

    Q: When an Amazon buys a Twitch (gamer streaming service) for $1B, other than two Seattle guys getting rich, what does the city reap from it? An income tax is the third
    rail. And IP is currently undefined in the B&O tax lexicon.

    A: I propose adding an intellectual property (IP) transfer fee to the definition of a B&O tax. Amend the language to capture that economic output: “The
    B&O tax is a gross receipts tax. It is measured on the value of products,
    gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business, or market value of IP at time of transfer or sale.”

    The formula to calculate overall GNP was revised by economists to include IP.
    Existing language in the definition simply needs to be revised to accurately
    and fairly reflect economic output. B&O taxes capture revenue from economic output.

    Companies like Twitch don’t register growth with “sales or revenue,” but with “visitors”
    or “minutes watched” or “users.” Gross receipts should not be limited to just sales
    or revenue. Other metrics reflect when economic output is generated. IP must be
    on equal footing with other sectors of the economy.

    An average B&O rate of .005 would have brought in $50M to Seattle on this transaction alone. That would fund the Mayor’s pre-school initiative for a year.

    Or, establish some transparency to B&O taxes for once (which is not the case currently) and allocate all proceeds from this to program to support Seattle workers who can’t afford to live here but are necessary for its function. Provide travel vouchers, rent support, and daycare support for working families.

  • Bruce Jessup

    The Status Quo, our current great society redistribution models, concomitant with the failings of shareholder capitalism, has created an inequitable burden for the millennials and generations to follow. There will soon be more consumers than producers all the while the rate of return on investment is exceeding that of the growth in the overall economy. We are witness to an untenable and a socially unsustainable situation: labor losing to equity. This will bring the pitchforks, as Nick Hanauer presciently warns in the Politico piece. The uncomfortable truth must be righted with bold solutions that will restore hope and give the next middle class a fighting chance. – creating sustainable public policy for the next middle class

  • Bruce Jessup

    Cloud City is developing because of a confluence of circumstances. The twin anchors of Amazon & Microsoft, cheap electricity, a multitude of spin-offs, a growing pool of talent, plenty of investors, and a culture of startups have been the creative
    environment. This inchoate sector of the economy is predicated on the ever
    increasing “use” of data in commerce and trade. The data driven
    economy is underway and it will steam ahead on the premise that there is
    untapped wealth in data. No news to you.

    Concomitant with the environment described above are an ethos of and market for “sharing” with the millennial generation. They share cars, kitchens, work spaces, and generally anything in exchange for money or services. It’s a short stretch to endorse the idea of data sharing. Data sharing for compensation will make sense to them… and it will create economic growth.

    Advance the idea of a data-share business model for companies which profit from end-user generated data as a democratic, millennial approach to new economic growth. Promote this as “leaning in” to the paradigm of stakeholder capitalism.

    There is already a startup in San Francisco which has adopted this business model. – creating sustainable creating sustainable public policy for the next middle class

  • Bruce Jessup

    Our natural ally and rival, if you will, in the next wave of internet
    development is Silicon Valley. They’ll be building the control centers
    of our lives and the devices that will
    generate the data; Cloud City will manage and monetize the data. Between the
    two, a tremendous amount of wealth will be created.

    has already been monetized in ways known. In the coming years, it will
    be monetized in many more ways yet known. To provide an example of
    scale, today’s market for data is measured in square feet; tomorrow’s
    market will be measured in cubic yards. There is no economic alchemy in
    the assumption that data is a source of
    wealth–a vast source.

    maturing data driven economy will offer social networks, online
    retailers, big data product developers, gov’t agencies, smart grid
    technologies, home energy management systems, farmers with drones,
    credit card companies, ad infinitum, all generating data and driving new
    growth. Within the inflationary universe of data – the dataverse – is a
    font of untapped wealth which could give the next middle class a
    fighting chance at the American Dream – the data dividend business model.

    All the while, the giants of data will look on. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Zillow et al… might they also lean in to stakeholder capitalism? If they could be convinced by an adept philanthropist, or the voices of the citizens through, to accept the new paradigm, rework their mission statements, and adopt a data dividend business model, the projections for growth would make the utterer blush… and a world would be obliged. – creating sustainable creating sustainable public policy for the next middle class

  • Bruce Jessup

    Today’s market for data is $16B. It is estimated that 10% of companies have data related revenues. In a $16T economy, that means 1% of those revenues are in data related business.

    In 2020, estimates are that 20% of companies will have data related business
    aspects which could be as high as 3% of revenues – a potential $100B market by

    This prediction underestimates the reach and momentum from a creative, data-driven economy. Social networks, online retailers, big data product developers, gov’t agencies, smart grid technologies, home energy management systems, farmers with drones, credit card companies, ad infinitum, all will be generating data, and driving new growth. All will be contributing to an emerging market which has an inflationary universe of data, a dataverse, as its commodity base.

    So what if the actual market in 2020 had 30% of companies with data related business aspects and those aspects represented 10% of their revenues? The market is then $480B. That’s $380B of new growth over five years by just supporting and advancing what is already happening. (If you consider the world’s economy is $75T, there could be nearly $2T of growth over a five year period worldwide.) – creating sustainable creating sustainable public policy for the next middle class