It looks like Square‘s ambitions are growing. Just recently, it added VC superstar Vinod Khosla to its board of directors. Now comes an announcement that former Obama Chief Economic Advisor (and former Harvard president) Larry Summers is also coming on board.
“Square is at a key point in our trajectory and we know Larry will contribute tremendous wisdom and expertise toward our continued success,” Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said in a statement.
Summers (pictured above, right, talking to Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner) also served as one of President Clinton’s Treasury Secretaries, from 1999 to 2001. After leaving that post, he took the lead at Harvard for five years. In the Obama administration, Summers was director of the White House Economic Council, as well as the president’s Chief Economic Advisor. He left at the end of last year to return to Harvard.
In Silicon Valley, Summers may be best known as the president of Harvard in The Social Network. In that film, a large amount of which was fictionalized, the president is portrayed as being unable to grasp the significance of the Facebook application being hatched under his roof and therefore dismissing the concerns brought to him about it by the Winklevoss twins.
Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that Summers was (and this is factual) Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg’s mentor and thesis advisor while she was at Harvard (more than a decade before either Mark Zuckerberg or the Winklevii graced its leafy campus). Sandburg later followed Summers both to the World Bank and then to the Treasury Department, where she became his chief of staff.
Sandburg also defended Summers’ track record on women after the controversial 2005 speech he made while president of Harvard, in which Summers seemed to say that he believed men and women had different aptitudes in science and engineering, and that accounted for why there were fewer women in tenured positions in those fields than men.
In a 2008 post on the Huffington Post, Sandburg wrote that Summers has been “a true advocate for women throughout his career.” He expressed himself poorly during the speech, she said, and the reason he made the speech in the first place was that “he cared enough about women’s careers and their trajectory in the fields of math and science to proactively analyze the issues and talk about what was going wrong.”