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State's Jared Cohen Reportedly Bound for Google "Think Tank"

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, August 16 2010

Photo credit: Center for American Progress

Fortune seems to confirm, kinda, a rumor that has been floating around technology and politics space for some time now: the State Department's Jared Cohen, one of the faces most identified with the department's push towards tech-enabled "21st Century Statecraft," is departing the State Department after four years on the job and heading over to Google:

We've been told that Cohen is busy building a new entity for Google which is tentatively called Google Ideas. Ideas is a global initiatives 'think tank' office inside of Google and will be run out of New York. Cohen will be working for Google full time by this fall. His job will be to spearhead initiatives to apply technology solutions to problems faced by the developing world.

Cohen was a Bush-era Condoleezza Rice hire who find some like-minded allies in the push to blend technology and global engagement with the addition of Alec Ross and others who came in with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of a ramping up of innovation efforts at State. Cohen, recently the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile piece, has been at the heart of some early projects in the 21st Century Statecraft vein, from the creation of a Virtual Student Foreign Service to highly-tweeted "technology delegations" of American executives and experts to places like Iraq, Russia, and Mexico.

Cohen, however, perhaps best known for being the person inside the U.S. State Department who reached out to Twitter and asked the company to delay a planned maintenance period during the post-election situation in Iran.

(Cohen hasn't, yet, responded to a request for confirmation of, and more details on, his new job.)

As for the Google aspect of Cohen's apparent new gig, it sounds a lot like what the company has attempted with Google.org, a forking of Google intended to focus on what the company calls "technology-driven philanthropy." Famed epidemiologist (and co-founder of The Well, one of the earliest online communities) Dr. Larry Brilliant was appointed head of Google.org with great fanfare in 2007, but he quietly moved over to a role as Google's Chief Philanthropy Evangelist in February of last year.

Here's the rest of the Fortune piece on Cohen's apparent move to Google.