Google Czar

February 1, 2011

in Baltimore,Broadband,Google Fiber

On March 11, 2010, Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake officially named me Baltimore’s “Google Czar” to help complete the city’s official response to Google’s Fiber for Communities Request for Information.

Intrigued by the “czar” title, TechCrunch picked up the story and it traveled around the globe about 6.5 times.

At the press conference, I encouraged Baltimore to “imagine”, and I pitched Google:

From the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office:

Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake enlisted the support of top business and technology leaders and organizations to assist in Baltimore’s grassroots effort to attract Google Fiber for Communities an initiative that asks American cities and municipalities to compete for up to a billion dollars in fiber optic network infrastructure delivering speeds nearly 100 times faster than most internet connections.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake also named Baltimore technology entrepreneur Tom Loveland as a volunteer “Google Czar” charged with working with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Neighborhoods to complete and submit the RFI by the March 26th due date.

“Baltimore is a tinderbox of innovation. Google Fiber is the spark, a game-changer that could turn Baltimore into a global innovation leader,” Mr. Loveland said. “Mayor Rawlings-Blake understands that and I’m honored to serve the City.”

Initially I turned down the role. Artificially inserting me as a figurehead in front of a highly effective group of volunteers who were already underway with a natural leader, Dave Troy, could demoralize the group and destroy the effort: “Why is HE getting the limelight? We’re doing all the work!” Plus broadband is one of Dave’s many areas of expertise, whereas I know little about it. But Dave and I kicked it around and soon concluded that it made a lot of sense. We have different strengths and partner well. And it was a big job with plenty to go around. So I signed on.

My very first action was to enlist Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, to help gather support from the broader business community. And then the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore for the same, and to help us write up the best case for Baltimore.

Then I dove in with the team. Large. Talented. Dedicated. All volunteer. Working with purpose toward a shared vision of a better Baltimore for all. Creating web sites. Shooting video around town. Driving social media. Chasing down use case ideas and writing them up. Brainstorming. Researching. Managing our written response. Coordinating with City Hall.

And on and on to a crescendo on Friday, March 26, the submission date.

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