Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst attended the White House jobs summit with "modest expectations," but came away optimistic that the Obama administration will take action to help businesses start hiring again.
"I didn't hear any new, brilliant ideas that haven't been brought up before, but we focused on taking those ideas to reality," Whitehurst said by phone from the Washington airport.
Participants broke into groups, and Whitehurst's team discussed proposals such as research and hiring tax credits, and how much would be needed to spur companies to expand.
"A lot of this is bailing water," he said. The administration "wants to bring unemployment down fast."
Whitehurst also pushed for longer-term steps to foster innovation and hiring, such as better job training and a national broadband policy.
Red Hat is hiring to meet increasing demand for its Linux computer-operating software, an increasingly popular alternative to Microsoft's Windows.
The company has added about 500 workers in the past year and now employs 3,100 worldwide, including more than 600 in Raleigh.
It was "a bit of a mystery" why he got an invite to the event, but Whitehurst jumped at the opportunity.
"For a high growth, successful company like Red Hat, it's important our opinions were heard," Whitehurst said. "We're building the future."
Whitehurst, who joined Red Hat in January 2008, previously was an executive with Delta Air Lines. He has visited the White House before under the previous administration, but this was the first time he met the current president.
They spoke only briefly today, long enough for Whitehurst to make one observation: "Obama's really tall."
Read Whitehurst's blog posting on the event here.