"Google executives, venture capitalists, advertising industry chiefs, attorneys and entrepreneurs contributed up to $50,000 each to the committee organizing the official festivities. The cash makes them part of a historic event that is expected to draw millions of spectators to the National Mall and, according to political analysts, buys them goodwill with the incoming administration.
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Robert Haas, the former CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., donated $50,000 to Obama's inauguration; J. Minott Wessinger, president of San Francisco's McKenzie River Corp., a beverage marketing company, along with his wife, contributed $100,000; Carole Hays, president of the company that operates several Broadway theaters in San Francisco, and her husband also gave $100,000.
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Mountain View's Google is home to the biggest block of Bay Area donations. Six executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt, co-founder Larry Page and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, made individual contributions of $25,000 each, for a total of $150,000.
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In donating to Obama's inaugural committee, the Bay Area's business elite joins Bill Gates of Microsoft, the family of billionaire investor George Soros, and Hollywood celebrities including director Steven Spielberg, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry. Absent is any big employee donation from Cisco Systems, the San Jose telecommunications equipment company that donated $100,000 to the Bush 2005 inauguration; and Chevron, which gave $250,000 toward the Bush festivities.