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California Innovation Officer Rick Klau Has Stepped Down

The state’s chief technology innovation officer and leader of the Office of Enterprise Technology within the Department of Technology stepped down this month. He had held the role since February 2021.

A high-profile technology innovator in state government has left that role about a year and a half after making the move from the private sector.

Rick Klau, who was named the state’s chief technology innovation officer and leader of the Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) in the California Department of Technology, stepped down this month, a CDT spokesperson told Industry Insider California. During his tenure, he built a team within OET that served as a strike force, focusing on technology related to the COVID-19 vaccines. (Klau posted a farewell notice Tuesday evening on LinkedIn.)

Before being appointed to the CTIO role by Gov. Gavin Newsom in February 2021, Klau had been a longtime executive with Google, serving successively as the company’s strategic partner development manager and product manager before moving to the company’s Google Ventures as a partner and then senior operating partner. Before going to work for the state, Klau had done significant volunteer work on its pandemic response.
Rick Klau
Rick Klau

Klau joined Google when it acquired Feedburner, where he had served as vice president of Publisher Services. Previously, Klau was was vice president of Socialtext from 2004 to 2005; vice president of Vertical Markets for Interface Software from 2001 to 2004; and director of Industry Marketing for iManage Inc. from 1999 to 2000.

Liana Bailey-Crimmins, California’s new chief information officer and director of CDT, told Industry Insider on Tuesday that Klau played a vital role in state government during his tenure.

“Rick’s experience and technical knowledge helped guide and expedite important product development and launch during a critical time for the state,” Bailey-Crimmins said through the CDT spokesperson. “While he will be missed, he leaves behind a strong and motivated team dedicated to developing new digital tools for the benefit of our residents.”

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Klau and his team at OET were thrust into a high-profile state effort to track COVID-19 vaccinations — and they developed technology and tools that were adopted by other states and organizations.

In an email to Industry Insider shortly after joining the state, Klau described himself as “a big believer in teamwork” and said his work at Google centered on developing teams.

“I see my role at CDT as not just delivering innovative technology, but working as part of the CDT team to provide the kinds of services that will enrich the lives of all Californians. I’m eager to get started,” he said.

Among those he recruited to his team was fellow Google alum Phoebe Peronto, who was named deputy director of OET in September; and Michael Cave, a veteran of state government who was named CDT’s first chief product officer.

In a virtual briefing in September with Industry Insider, Klau said his first priority was building that team. Once that was accomplished, he shifted the focus to projects driven by the urgency of the pandemic.

Technology wasn’t Klau’s intended first pursuit. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Lafayette College in international affairs and French, then went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law. While working in law, he was exposed to technology, which quickly consumed his interest. He shifted from law to technology, working in various capacities with a number of startups.

A CDT spokesperson said that because Klau was a governor’s appointee, there’s no word yet on whether the CTIO role will be filled.

This article was originally published by Industry Insider-California, Government Technology's sister publication.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C.