Condoleezza Rice, known for her cameo on 30 Rock and that time she helped sell the case for the Iraq War and torture, has a new line on her resume: the boardroom of Dropbox. She'll help the cloud startup with "international expansion," which she sure knows a thing or two about.
Businessweek first reported the hire today:
The former secretary of state's consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates, has been advising the startup on management issues for the last year. Now she'll help the company think about such matters as international expansion and privacy, an issue that dogs every cloud company in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA. "As a country, we are having a great national conversation and debate about exactly how to manage privacy concerns," Rice says about her new position. "I look forward to helping Dropbox navigate it."
Condi's board jump comes shortly after another Silicon Valley stint, acting as a sort of spokesperson for Sheryl Sandberg's "Ban Bossy" pseudo-campaign. But now she'll have actual duties (and actual influence)—Dropbox is a burgeoning company with hundreds of millions of satisfied customers, and the expectation of a nice plump IPO in the not too distant future.
Rice is no doubt one of the best connected women you can add to your business, period. But the former National Security Adviser will be a tough sell in the informed nerd community, and is a downright baffling pick for a company that needs to navigate "privacy concerns" or court the international community. And the news is being greeted with plenty of (deserved) skepticism:
Condoleeza Rice to join Dropbox board? Bold move NSA! Err, I mean bold move Dropbox!
— Miguel de Icaza (@migueldeicaza) April 9, 2014
Adding Condi Rice to the Dropbox board might be the most tone-deaf move by a big Silicon Valley company in as long as I can remember.
— Ed Bott (@edbott) April 9, 2014
Leave Dropbox. Fast. http://t.co/ZFWiGQacpz
— Jan Lehnardt (@janl) April 9, 2014
And so forth.
On the other hand, if you can deadpan WMD talking points before the whole planet, Silicon Valley is easy.