Megan Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Megan Smith
3rd Chief Technology Officer of the United States
In office
September 4, 2014 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byTodd Park
Succeeded byMichael Kratsios
Personal details
Born (1964-10-21) October 21, 1964 (age 59)
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1999; div. 2017)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of
(BS, MS)

Megan J. Smith (born October 21, 1964)[1] is an American engineer and technologist. She was the third Chief Technology Officer of the United States (U.S. CTO) and Assistant to the President, serving under President Barack Obama. She was previously a vice president at Google, leading new business development and early-stage partnerships across Google's global engineering and product teams at Google for nine years, was general manager of,[2] a vice president briefly at Google[x] where she co-created WomenTechmakers,[3] is the former CEO of Planet Out and worked as an engineer on early smartphones at General Magic.[4][5] She serves on the boards of MIT[6] and Vital Voices, was a member of the USAID Advisory Committee on Voluntary Aid[7] and co-founded the Malala Fund.[8][9] Today Smith is the CEO and Founder of shift7. On September 4, 2014, she was named as the third (and first female) U.S. CTO, succeeding Todd Park,[10][11] and serving until January, 2017.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith grew up in Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario,[13][circular reference] and spent many summers at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, where her mother, Joan Aspell Smith, was director of the Chautauqua Children's School.[14] Smith graduated from City Honors School in 1982.[15] She went on to receive her S.B. in 1986 and an S.M. in 1988, both in mechanical engineering, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed her master's thesis work at the MIT Media Lab. She was a member of the MIT student team that designed, built and raced a solar car 2000 miles across the Australian outback in the first cross-continental solar car race.[16]


Following MIT, Smith worked at a variety of start-ups, including Apple in Tokyo and General Magic located in Mountain View, California, as product design lead on nascent smartphone technologies[17] before she got involved with the launch of Planet Out in 1995. She joined formally in 1996 as COO and from 1998 she was Planet Out's Chief Executive Officer, where she expanded partnerships, built new business models, grew revenue and global users, raised venture funding, and later presided over that company's merger with[18][19]

In 2003, she joined Google,[20] where she rose to the vice president of new business development, leading early-stage partnerships, pilot explorations and technology licensing across Google's global engineering and product teams. She led many early acquisitions, including Keyhole (Google Earth), Where2Tech (Google Maps), and Picasa, and later also took over as general manager of Google's philanthropic arm,[21] Smith co-created and co-hosted Google's Solve for X solution acceleration programs 2012-14.[22] In 2012, she started Google's "Women Techmakers" diversity initiative to expand visibility, community and resources for technical women globally.[23]

In 2014, she left Google to become the 3rd U.S. CTO. In that role, Smith recruited top tech talent to serve across government collaborating on pressing issues, from AI, data science and open source, to inclusive economic growth, entrepreneurship, structural inequalities, government tech innovation capacity, STEM/STEAM engagement, workforce development, and criminal justice reform. Her teams focused on broad capacity building by co-creating all-hands-on-deck initiatives, including the public-private program TechHire, the Computer Science for All initiative, and the Image of STEM campaigns.[24] In addition, she launched the campaign to #FindtheSentiments, which is an effort to find the Declaration of Sentiments, a piece of history from the Seneca Falls Convention.[25][26] After leaving the White House in 2017, Smith became CEO and Founder of shift7 which works on tech-forward, inclusive innovation for faster impact on systemic economic, social, and environmental challenges.[27] At shift7, the team continued co-creating the United Nations Solutions Summit and other programs; in 2017 Smith helped launch Tech Jobs Tour, aimed at promoting diversity in the technological sector, traveling to over 20 U.S. cities to help empower and connect local talent to their nascent tech sectors.[28] Smith serves on the board of MIT,[29] Vital Voices, LA2028, Think of Us as well as on the advisory boards for the MIT Media Lab and the Algorithmic Justice League. Additionally, she currently serves on the global Advisory Council for CFK Africa, a leading NGO working in Kenyan informal settlements.[30] She is also a member of the Award Selection Committee for the distinguished Carroll L. Wilson Award at MIT.[31] Smith has contributed to a broad range of engineering projects, including a bicycle lock,[32] space station construction program, and solar cookstoves.[33]

She is an active proponent of STEM education and innovation.[34]

Her appeal for technologists to work in public service at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing inspired several Harvard University students to create the national non-profit organization Coding it Forward which creates data science and technology internship program for undergraduate and graduate students in United States federal agencies.[35]

Smith was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2017 for leading technological innovation teams and efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM industries both nationally and globally, and elected a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018.


  • World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2001, 2002[36]
  • Listed by Out magazine in 2012[37] and 2013,[38] as one of the 50 most powerful LGBT people in the United States
  • Reuters Digital Vision Program Fellow at Stanford, 2003-2004[39]
  • Top 25 Women on the Web, 2000[40]
  • Upside Magazine 100 Digital Elite, 1999 and 2000[41]
  • Advertising Age i.20, 1999[42]
  • GLAAD Interactive Media Award for Internet Leadership, 1999[43]
  • Charging Buffalo Award, 2015[44]
  • Matrix Hall of Fame, 2015[45]
  • Business Insider 23 Most Powerful LGBTQ+ People in Tech, 2019[46]

Personal life[edit]

Smith married technology columnist Kara Swisher in Marin County in 1999 at a time when same-sex marriage was not legal in California.[47][48] They had additional legal wedding ceremonies in 2003 in Niagara Falls, Canada, in 2004 as part of the San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings, and again in San Francisco, California in November 2008 in advance of California Proposition 8, which declared same-sex marriages invalid in California.[48] Smith and Swisher have two sons, Louis and Alexander.[16][18][49][50] They separated in 2014,[47] and were divorced as of 2017.[51]


  1. ^ "Megan Smith". Computer Hope. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  2. ^ "The Women at Google". Cubicle Coach. Marie Claire. March 12, 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Women Techmakers". Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  4. ^ Lehoczky, Etelka (October 26, 2004). "Six who see the future". The Advocate. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  5. ^ Boss, Suzie (Fall 2010). "Do No Evil". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Corporation elects new members". MIT News. June 3, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  7. ^ "Advisory Committee On Voluntary Foreign Aid Members". United States Agency for International Development. 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  8. ^ Smith, Megan (November 10, 2012). "Introducing: The Malala Fund". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Board of Directors". Vital Voices. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Scola, Nancy (September 4, 2014). "White House names Google's Megan Smith the next Chief Technology Officer of the United States". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  11. ^ Howard, Alex (September 4, 2014). "Google[x] VP Megan Smith busts Silicon ceiling as first female US CTO". Tech Republic. Retrieved October 3, 2014. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  12. ^ "Megan Smith". LinkedIn.[dead link]
  13. ^ Mabbett, Andy (6 June 2015). "File:Megan Smith voice.flac". Retrieved 21 June 2015 – via WikiMedia Commons.
  14. ^ Anderson, Dale (September 4, 2014). "Obama names City Honors graduate U.S. chief technology officer". The Buffalo News. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  15. ^ Kresse, William A. "Distinguished Alumni". City Honors School at Fosdick-Masten Park. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  16. ^ a b McCluskey, Eileen (15 October 2007). "Megan Smith '86, SM '88: Pioneering change from PlanetOut to Google Earth". MIT Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ISSN 1099-274X.
  17. ^ Langway, Lynn; Pamela Kruger; P. B. Gray (March 1, 2001). "25 Women Who Are Making It Big In Small Business". CNN. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  18. ^ a b Hopkins, Jim (June 21, 2000). "PlanetOut CEO taps gay market Exec becomes power player in elusive $450B industry". USA Today. p. 7B. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  19. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (16 November 2000). "2 Companies In Gay Media Plan to Merge". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  20. ^ Hafner, Katie (September 3, 2003). "3 succeed in computer field, but women still lag". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  21. ^ Hardy, Quentin (24 February 2009). "Re-engineering". Forbes. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  22. ^ Woollacott, Emma (February 7, 2012). "'Solve for X' to tackle world's biggest problems". TG Daily. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  23. ^ "Women Techmakers". Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  24. ^ "Office of the Chief Technology Officer". White House.
  25. ^ "The Lost History: Help Us Find the Declaration of Sentiments". 2015-10-14. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  26. ^ Robbins, Liz; Roberts, Sam (2019-02-09). "Early Feminists Issued a Declaration of Independence. Where Is It Now?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  27. ^ "Team". shift7. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  28. ^ Arnold, Jenna (2017-11-08). "First Female CTO Of The U.S. Megan Smith Hopes Tech's History Can Repeat Itself". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  29. ^ MIT News Office (June 3, 2011). "Corporation elects new members". MIT News. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  30. ^ "Meet Our Team | Staff, Board, and Advisory Council". CFK Africa. Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  31. ^ Smith, Megan (November 10, 2014). "Distinguished Fellowships - Carroll L. Wilson". MIT. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  32. ^ McNichol, Tom. "Wired 8.06: Must Read". Wired News. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  33. ^ "Megan Smith". Semester at Sea. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  34. ^ Smith, Megan (October 11, 2013). "'Passion, Adventure and Heroic Engineering'... and Talent Inclusion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  35. ^ Kelman, Steve. "Students recruiting students into federal tech". FCW. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  36. ^ McCluskey, Eileen (2007-10-15). "Megan Smith '86, SM '88". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  37. ^ editors (17 April 2012). "The Power List: MEGAN SMITH". Out. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  38. ^ editors (10 April 2013). "The Power List: MEGAN SMITH". Out. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  39. ^ "Digital Vision Fellowship". 2003-09-11. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  40. ^ Mayfield, Kendra (February 1, 2000). "Women Geeks Honor Their Own". Wired News. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  41. ^ "Steve Jobs Edges Out Bill Gates for Top Billing Among UPSIDE's 1999 Elite 100; ..." (Press release). November 15, 1999. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  42. ^ Fitzgerald, Kate (November 1, 1999). "i.20: PlanetOut's Megan J. Smith". Advertising Age. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  43. ^ Naquin, Robert J.; Naquin-Delain, Marsha, eds. (6 August 1999). "GLAAD Honors PlanetOut & Geocities". cruisin' the web. Ambush magazine. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  44. ^ Thompson, Melissa (14 August 2015). "SAVE THE DATE: 37th Annual Buffalo Nite to Honor Megan Smith Sept. 16". WashingtonExec. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  45. ^ "MATRIX HALL OF FAME". NYWIC. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  46. ^ Leskin, Paige (2 June 2019). "The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  47. ^ a b Wallace, Benjamin (15 July 2014). "Kara Swisher Is Silicon Valley's Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist. How Does That Work?". New York.
  48. ^ a b Swisher, Kara (10 November 2008). "My Four Weddings, How getting gay married became an Olympic sport for me". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  49. ^ Schubarth, Cromwell (September 16, 2011). "Google working on social, news reader". San Jose Business Journal.
  50. ^ "Susan Ann Ventre". Scranton Times (Obituary). 24 January 2012 – via
  51. ^ Swisher, Kara (2017). "Kara Swisher Biography and Ethics Statement". re/code. Archived from the original on 30 December 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]