The Silicon Valley Organization has just named its next president and CEO: Derrick Seaver.
Seaver, who is currently Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg’s Chief of Staff, got a unanimous vote from SVO CEO Search Committee members and will now represent the South Bay’s regional chamber of commerce’s more than 1,000 companies in advocating, promoting and protecting the interests of its members.
"I am deeply humbled by this opportunity to serve my dynamically diverse community and rebuild the bridges between our businesses and the people of this great Valley," Seaver said in a statement. "It is this area’s entrepreneurship that in my eyes offers an equitable road to economic mobility for all of our residents and it is time to refocus on this promise.”
Seaver has his work cut out for him repairing those bridges.
He fills the shoes of Matt Mahood, the SVO’s former CEO, who stepped down while embroiled in controversy over a decidedly racist campaign advertisement depicting a group of Black men in a cloud of either tear gas or smoke asking, “Do you really want to sign on to this?”
The online ad referred to discussions of redirecting funding to the San Jose Police Department, amid nationwide protests erupting nationwide following George Floyd’s death after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The ad sparked vehement blowback, including board members departures, a now-dissolved PAC, condemnation from election officials and withdrawn financial support.
A list of SVO’s Board Members was taken offline shortly following the ad and has yet to resurface. Yet, according to the SVO’s website, 134 businesses joined SVO last year, a membership base that spans more than 80 industries. Its roster of members ranges from Toeniskoetter Construction, the California Apartment Association and California’s Great America.
It will be Seaver’s job to keep that base growing and mend the divides that surfaced last year in the wake of the online blunder.
Seaver’s new role is a bit of a homecoming, previously working as Director of Public Policy from 2013 to 2017 under the organization’s former moniker, the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. While he currently works with Ellenberg, he also spent time as Director of Policy and Operations for the San Jose Downtown Association.
“He brings integrity and a collaborative spirit to every issue he tackles, and I have no doubt that he will bring that same energy to the SVO Anyone who has had the good fortune of working with Derrick knows he is committed to the community he serves and will work with everyone to meet their needs,” Ellenberg said in a statement. “I can think of no better leader, ally or friend to repair and reinforce the integral bridges between our business community and the people who call this place home.”
The SVO already has its eyes on a handful of bills working through the California State Legislature, including issues sparked by the pandemic, like food delivery charge caps and expanded take-out and dining options.
Seaver will be relieving former president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Bob Linscheid of his duties, who has been the organization’s interim CEO since December.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said the SVO Board unanimously voted to appoint Seaver, but it was the SVO CEO Search Committee that voted unanimously.