Steve Spinner

Steve Spinner
Born Steven Jonathan Spinner
(1969-07-17)July 17, 1969
North Woodmere, New York, United States
Residence Menlo Park, California
Nationality United States
Alma mater Harvard University (MBA), Wesleyan University (BA)
Occupation Business Executive, Angel investor
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Allison Spinner (2002)
Children Two (sons)

Steven Jonathan Spinner (born July 17, 1969) is an American business executive who is known for his work as an angel investor and adviser to Silicon Valley startups and his volunteer work as a fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.[1] He previously served as a stimulus adviser for the United States Department of Energy and was peripherally associated with the Department of Energy loan to a failed solar company, Solyndra.[2]


Spinner was born and grew up in North Woodmere, New York. He received his BA from Wesleyan University in 1991, where he majored in economics and classics. At Wesleyan he ran cross country for four years, was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa and won the school’s Maynard Award as the top scholar-athlete.[3] He received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1996 where he served as Vice President of the Harvard Graduate Council.[4]


Early career and Olympics

After graduating from Wesleyan, Spinner worked in McKinsey & Company’s Hong Kong office as a Henry Luce Scholar. Spinner turned to serving the U.S. by working to develop marketing partnerships in connection with the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.[3] As Program Manager for Atlanta Centennial Olympic Properties (the official joint marketing program of the USOC and the host city[5]), Spinner managed a marketing evaluation strategy that led to $655 million in corporate sponsorships, including $426 million of official domestic sponsorships.[6] His forecasting models in connection with the 1996 Olympics led to the largest TV rights purchase in U.S. history to that date.[7]

Between 1996 and 2000 he worked for NBC attaining the position of Senior Vice President of strategic partnerships.[8] He then served as Senior Vice President at NotifyMe Networks.[9]


Spinner has spent more than 15 years advising startup companies in technology, media and retail, as well as founding a small business.[10] In 2002 he founded the company Sports Potential in Menlo Park, California which offers a test called SMART to assess the mental and physical qualities of children and guide them to appropriate sports.[11] Candidates are tested on a variety of physical skills, ranging from speed to balance.[12][13]

More recently, Spinner has become an active angel investor in addition to his role as advisor to startup companies and small businesses in the greater San Francisco area. He is known as a "connector" within Silicon Valley, introducing venture capitalists to other entrepreneurs,[14] and currently serves as an angel investor and advisor to more than 10 companies. Spinner is a speaker at various think tanks[15] and has spoken as an expert at university entrepreneurship forums.[16]

Public service


Spinner was a senior fellow and served as energy policy adviser with the Center for American Progress.[8] Spinner publicly advocated for energy policies that support clean, renewable energy.[17]


As an early, prominent supporter of Senator Obama from the technology sector,[17] Spinner was one of the Obama campaign's authors for its innovation agenda announced at Google's headquarters in November 2007.[18] After election day, Spinner was asked to serve on the Obama-Biden Transition Project in its Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Working Group (focusing on "Innovation and National Priorities" initiatives).[19] During the President's 2012 reelection campaign, Spinner served as a California finance chair and founded "Technology for Obama" (T4O). He also prominently supported Hillary Clinton by spearheading the Obama campaign's effort to raise funds to retire Clinton's 2008 Presidential election campaign debt.[20]

On April 2, 2013, Spinner was announced as Campaign Chair for Ro Khanna for Congress in his effort to represent California's 17th congressional district (south Silicon Valley)[21] Working with Jeremy Bird, Larry Grisolano and other senior Obama 2012 campaign veterans, he said "the goal in bringing together the best talent from the Obama team is to run a campaign in a strong Democratic district that operates like a battleground state in a presidential election".[22]

Public service

Seeking to help the country in the economic recovery, Spinner served as a stimulus adviser for the United States Department of Energy. Spinner was hired to bring Silicon Valley experience to a Washington bureaucracy.[2] Spinner acted as a liaison between the Recovery Act Office and the Loan Programs Office.[2] Spinner started as a loan program advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu in April 2009, a month after the department had approved a conditional commitment for Solyndra’s loan guarantee. He left in September 2010.[23] Spinner served as the DOE's lead representative on the White House Business Council, White House Innovation Cohort, and White House Automotive Communities Task Force.[24]

In 2011, he was peripherally involved in the Solyndra loan controversy[25] and it was reported that he pushed a loan "across the finish line" ahead of a September groundbreaking ceremony.[26] According to the Department of Energy, Spinner "played no role in the decision-making on or evaluation of individual loan applications" and his role in Solyndra was limited to the timing and production of the ceremony itself.[10] Public documents released by the White House that detail Spinner's emails to Department of Energy officials confirm this limited role.[26][27][28]

On June 26, 2015, Spinner was announced by President Obama as a Member to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. [29]


Spinner met his wife, Allison, in Silicon Valley[30] with whom he has two young boys. He is a Board Member of the Las Lomitas Education Foundation.[31] He competed in and finished the 2003 Ironman Switzerland.[32]



  1. Confessore, Nicholas (2012-09-12). "Obama grows more reliance on big money contributors". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 Grunwald, Michael (2012). The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1451642322.
  3. 1 2 "Executive Profile: Steven J. Spinner". Businessweek. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  4. "Graduate Student Party Draws 1,200, Raises $5,000 for Make-A-Wish". Harvard University Gazette. Harvard University. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  5. "United States Statutes at Large Volume 106 Part 2". US Code. Office of the Federal Register. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  6. "Olympic Marketing Fact File" (PDF). United States Olympic Committee. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  7. "U.S. Coverage of the Olympic Games". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  8. 1 2 "Steve Spinner" at Center for American Progress.
  9. "Bigsight Steve Spinner". Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  10. 1 2 "Fact Check: Steve Spinner". US Department of Energy. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  11. "SUNDAY MONEY: SPENDING; A New Competitive Sport: Grooming the Child Athlete". The New York Times, 6/25/2006.
  12. "Finding the Best Sport For Your Child". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  13. "BABY, YOU'RE THE GREATEST". ESPN. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  14. Green, Joshua. "The Amazing Money Machine". The Atlantic Journal. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  15. "Aspen Institute Speakers List". Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  16. "Caltech/MIT Enterprise Forum - California Institute of Technology" (PDF). Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  17. 1 2 Caperton, Richard. "Don't Let Clean Energy Funding Die on the Vine". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  18. "TECH LEADERS ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR BARACK OBAMA" (PDF). USA Today. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  19. "Policy Working Groups". The Office of the President-Elect. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  20. Green, Joshua. "Obama's Parting Gift to Hillary Clinton". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  21. Marinucci, Carla (April 2, 2013). "Rep. Honda to face Ro Khanna challenge". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  22. Green, Joshua (April 4, 2013). "Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama". Business Week. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  23. "Steve Spinner leaves Center for American Progress - Darren Samuelsohn". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  24. "SWWDB Update : June 18, 2010 : Volume 2, Issue 2" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  25. Neela Banerjee and Matea Gold. "Obama fundraiser took active interest in Solyndra loan, emails show". Los Angeles Times, 10/8/2011.
  26. 1 2 "DOE employees bristled at fundraiser's Solyndra push". Politico. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  27. "Red Carpet for Solyndra Figure at Democratic Convention - ABC News". 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  28. "Obama Fundraiser Pushed Solyndra Deal Inside". ABC. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  29. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. "WEDDINGS; Allison Berry, Steven Spinner - New York Times". 2002-03-10. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  31. "Board Members". LLEF. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  32. "Ironman Switzerland 2003". Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  33. "How Silicon Valley made Barack Obama this year's hottest start-up". The Atlantic. June 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
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