Mark Zuckerberg courts ex-Obama aide

Facebook is looking to a former White House spin doctor to help with its communications.

According to the New York Times the social networking site is talking to Robert Gibbs about a senior role to help manage communications ahead of its planned flotation in 2012.

However, there’s still a long way to go – with the Times claiming that talks between Mr Gibbs, who stepped down as Barack Obama’s press secretary in February, are “still at an early stage.” It added that “no formal offer had been made.”

It cautioned that “it remained possible that the discussions could collapse,” despite Facebook pushing for a quick decision. To sweeten up Gibbs, who had been planning to help Obama campaign for a second term in office before taking a lucrative private sector job, Facebook is offering him a large salary as well as shares in the site, which has been valued overall at around $60 billion.

Facebook hasn’t been the most popular in certain US political circles, coming under fire over online privacy issues.

Perhaps Zuckerberg could take a leaf out Intel and AMD’s books, the two being no strangers to the art of lobbying.

In December AMD was said to have spent $160,000 on lobbying in the third quarter. It splashed the cash on lobbing the Congress and the Executive Office of the President over antitrust issues in the semiconductor industry as well as grumbling to the Department of Defense about defence spending.

Intel threw $830,000 at this cause, with the money going on lobbying on issues such as immigration, government funding for scientific research, trademark and education issues. The rest went on government internet policies.

Of course the moves by Facebook are nothing new. Politicians and tech companies have been jumping in and out of each others’ beds for a while now.

In February it came to light that Intel’s Paul Otellini had wormed his way into the White House in the shape of President Obama’s right hand man for advising on a Council of Jobs and Competitiveness.

Obama had at the time also reportedly been in talks with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, but wasn’t as successful in pulling them under the blanket.