clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Google Taps Former White House Economist as Head of Global Policy

Another former Obama administration vet moves to tech.

Getty Images News / Thinkstock

The revolving door between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., took another spin today.

Google hired former White House economic affairs adviser Caroline Atkinson as its new head of global policy. She’ll be charged with managing the Internet giant’s sometimes fraught relationships around the world, particularly across the Atlantic.

Atkinson brings decades of experience on the international stage. She served as President Obama’s representative at the G7 and G20 summits and worked as his deputy national security adviser, where she coordinated policy on a range of issues including energy and the environment.

“Caroline is respected around the world for her understanding of how the global economy works, her tireless efforts to promote strong, balanced and sustainable growth and her experience in managing international financial crises,” said Obama at the time of her appointment.

More critically for Google, its new policy chief is deeply familiar with Europe. Lately, the continent has ramped up its more stringent opposition to tech on privacy and economic policy — with Google bearing the brunt of the pressure. In April, the European Union competition authority leveled two blows against the search giant — an official case against its shopping product and an initial investigation into Android — after years of lengthy negotiations that Google had, on multiple occasions, believed it settled.

Before joining the Obama administration, Atkinson served as a senior executive with the International Monetary Fund and, prior to that, worked as a senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Caroline’s an internationally respected diplomat and adviser, and we’re delighted to have such a thoughtful leader heading our global policy team,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said in a statement.

Atkinson’s predecessor, Rachel Whetstone, could be more confrontational in her approach. But her dogged tactics were credited with navigating Google through several policy knots, including the closed Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation. Whetstone and her team, however, were unable to stave off political pressure from Europe.

Atkinson will report to Walker. Her first official trip very well may be to Brussels.

This article originally appeared on