updated 05:52 pm EST, Mon February 11, 2013
Powell Jobs, Instagram founder were guests last year
As happened last year, at least one influential tech-sector figure will sit with the First Lady in the Congressional gallery to watch President Obama's State of the Union address, which will happen Tuesday evening. Apple CEO Tim Cook will sit with Michelle Obama, along with Bobak Ferdowsi of NASA's Mars Curiousity rover team, military families, immigration reform advocates and gun violence victims, among others. Other tech CEOs have been invited by various congressmen.
Last year, Mrs. Obama's most prominent guest was Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who had died just a few months earlier. Also present last year was Mike Krieger, the co-founder of Instagram. The President, along with members of Congress, often invite select citizens and business leaders or other VIPs as special guests for the speech.
The San Jose Mercury News notes that local Democratic Representative Mike Honda has invited Ramji Srinivasan -- a college entrepreneur who started up genetic testing company Counsyl to promote an inexpensive gene test for prospective parents -- as his guest. The President and First Lady's guests are often referred to in the speech as examples of American entrepreneurship or advocates of policies the President wants to promote in setting an agenda for Congress to -- hopefully -- act on.
Gun violence and immigration reform have been much in the news of late, but the President has made a habit of frequently referring to the technology sector as among America's strongest advantages over competing nations. Obama regularly highlights contributions made by the space program and the innovation of the US's technology industries as key areas in which America continues to lead the world, and routinely pushes for increased science, engineering and mathematics education funding and incentives to keep the country from losing its advantage in these highly-competitive areas.