President Dmitry Medvedev left California’s Silicon Valley with a brand-new iPhone 4 and a bit of advice from Apple CEO Steve Jobs: Change Russians’ mentality.
Medvedev, who toured the U. S. cradle of innovation to get tips and drum up support for his modernization drive, also won a pledge from Cisco Systems to invest $1 billion as a tenant in Skolkovo, the Kremlin’s version of Silicon Valley outside Moscow.
But with a business culture where corruption and bureaucracy are rampant, Russia poses a huge risk for U. S. companies, said the U. S. congresswoman whose California district includes Silicon Valley.
“I think American investors should have serious concerns about corruption in Russia,” Anna Eshoo, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, told The Moscow Times.
Medvedev himself acknowledged that Russia had a way to go before it could boast a competitive, innovative economy.
“Unfortunately for us, venture
capitalism is not going so well so far,” Medvedev said Wednesday during a meeting with Stanford University officials, including former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, according to the Stanford Report.
“No one wants to run the risk,” he said. “It’s a problem of culture, as Steve Jobs told me today. We need to change the mentality.”
Medvedev met with Jobs at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, where the legendary CEO presented him with an iPhone 4 an hour before it went on sale in the United States.
Medvedev did not elaborate on his conversation with Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976 and returned in 1996 to revive it into a technology powerhouse by promoting a corporate culture where workers are enthusiastic about their work and encouraged to improve the world.
Medvedev also did not say how he might use Jobs’ advice. But his actions with his new iPhone could speak volumes.
Under anti-corruption rules backed by Medvedev, government officials are only allowed to accept gifts that cost less than 3,000 rubles ($100), and iPhone 4 pre-orders in Russian online shops range from 85,000 to 95,000 rubles ($2,700 to $3,000).
The phone, which will not go on sale in Russia before this fall, retails for up to $600 in the United States.
A Kremlin spokeswoman said Thursday that the iPhone was a personal gift to Medvedev so he could do with it as he pleased. Reminded of the gift rules, she said the restrictions applied to gifts accepted in private.
“This is different because the iPhone is a gift presented to the president officially in an open setting,” she said.
Medvedev, who already owns an older iPhone model, used the new phone during the meeting with Jobs to make a video call to his economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich, who was accompanying him on a tour of Silicon Valley, RIA-Novosti reported.
Medvedev also got advice from other U. S. business executives and a group of Russian expats working in Silicon Valley.
Cisco, a world leader in computer-networking equipment, seemed to have bought into Medvedev’s pitch for Skolkovo, with a proposed 10-year tax holiday.
“We will partner with many of the Russian companies,” Cisco CEO John Chambers said at a meeting with Medvedev at the company’s headquarters.
The company will build offices in Skolkovo, including a second global headquarters for emerging technology, and invest $1 billion into research in business development over 10 years, Cisco said in a statement.