The Silicon Valley Organization Appoints an Interim CEO

The Silicon Valley Organization (SVO)—enmeshed in a fight for its future sparked by its use of a racist image in a political campaign—has named veteran executive Bob Linscheid as its CEO while it looks for a permanent replacement for fired executive Matt Mahood.

Linscheid, 67, lives in Danville and runs a consulting firm specializing in public relations and management for economic development organizations and trade associations.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he previously served as chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce as well as three smaller Northern California business associations in Chico, Walnut Creek and Antioch. Currently, Linscheid chairs the California State University Board of Trustees, where he has served since 2005. He is the recipient of Rotary District 5160’s Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Linscheid said his first order of business will be “doing a lot of listening” and getting to know the board, staff and community.

He said he’s no stranger to diversity, equity and inclusion issues that arose during his leadership roles at CSU and the San Francisco chamber. He plans to address the need for meaningful organizational change, saying that he plans “not to just sprinkle DEI [diversity, equity, inclusion] in, but bake it in. I believe we can do that.”

“I’m really grateful that they’re taking such an aggressive role in confronting this issue,” he told San Jose Inside. “This is a golden opportunity to figure out this path for reconciliation. Racial injustice is happening everywhere. It’s something that is very concerning. And you tack on the health issue and the economics of the health issue, and they seem to be intertwined. Having a fresh pair of eyes and ears added to the equation, my hope is that it’s beneficial to the process.”

Linscheid disagrees with calls from outside the organization to dissolve SVO in the wake of the posting of the racially charged campaign photograph and said everyone he’s spoken with so far believes a business voice is critical in the community.

“Everyone thinks we need an SVO and chamber. If we disband the organization, where’s the support for the business?” he asked, stressing the urgency of advocating on behalf of small and medium businesses that are struggling to survive the Covid-19 shutdowns.

“Yesterday, we had 17 chambers and 800 letters in support of small businesses brought to the [Santa Clara County] Board of Supervisors,” he said. “We didn’t do it alone, but if we didn’t have the SVO, I dare say there wouldn’t have been that coordinated effort.”

Linscheid said he believes that local government support for small and medium businesses during the pandemic needs to be part of the equation.

“We’re going to see if Congress comes out of its coma,” he said, adding, “When business is successful, everybody thrives.”

The SVO announced the CEO hire this morning along with a summary of findings from the investigation into the controversial attack ad.

One of the findings unearthed by Jen Cornell, of CDF Labor Law, was that an employee was responsible for posting the image that sparked public backlash. SVO officials previously blamed an outside web administrator.

Click here to read the organization’s statement in full.

This article has been updated to include quotes from Bob Linscheid.


  1. Dear newsroom: Where can we get confirmation of this:
    “One of the findings unearthed by Jen Cornell, of CDF Labor Law, was that an employee was responsible for posting the image that sparked public backlash. SVO officials previously blamed an outside web administrator.”

    That;s big news. I googled Jen but couldn’t find anything on the SVO ad and staff responsibility. Thanks

  2. Click the link at the end of the article to see the SVO’s full statement. Here’s the relevant part:

    “An SVO employee posted the image on the SVO website as a landing page.

    The SVO employee who posted the image believed that political content was to be posted on the website at the direction of the political consultant.

    The political consultant requested that the SVO employee source an image of a defund the police demonstration or a riot scene.

    The image was sourced from a free source website.

    The image in question was posted on the SVO website by the SVO employee after that employee believed the image had been approved by the political consultant.

    The consultant denies approving the image.”

  3. This image did not HARM the community as that dude from the NAACP said, and all those self-serving non-profits leeches that broadcast of this image through multiple entities and press conferences. They did the damage to the community.

    Good lord, ” It appears to have been accessed 149 times by 66 unique users. Of the 66 users, 43 were direct traffic – meaning they typed the URL or the name of the Landing Page directly into the browser, suggesting they were alerted to the existence of the page and sought it out.”

    66 people saw this before it was taken off, and yet, the anti-business opportunists decided 10’s of thousands should be traumatized by this image by showing it on TV, pressers, etc.

    “The political consultant requested that the SVO employee source an image of a defund the police demonstration or a riot scene” – If the employee “sourced” an image showed the tear gas and protests happening in San Jose, this would be a non-story.

    66 people saw this mistake, and SVO immediately took it down.

    The detractors are opened up the systemic racism wounds, rather than some jr. staffer searching the web for a copyright free image.

  4. If the political consultant firm was not partly responsible, why did SVO sever ties with the firm? Will the consultant firm be bringing a defamation action against SVO for publicly attributing partial blame to the firm?

    Most importantly, why is Mayor Sam Liccardo publicly denouncing the racist imagery yet apparently continuing to maintain a relationship with this same consultant firm despite SVO attributing partial blame to the firm? Why won’t any local journalists ask him?

  5. Okay…

    Lots of misinformation goin’ around…
    The Chamber spent over $200K on this MAILER, that’s a LOT of money anywhere… As someone who is a position to intimately understand the dynamics of this particular non-profit AND its PAC I can tell you the approval for the image came from the very top. The CULTURE that created it is typically over the op Young Republican, ala Roger Stone, Lee Atwater and Paul Manafort…

    This has been the politics of the Chamber for 20 years… San Jose USED to have a consensus driven Chamber, LABOR Union representatives sat on its COMPAC Board…

    Because Community means everyone…

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