White House names Obama’s choice for ambassador to Sweden

Matthew Barzun, a 38-year-old internet entrepreneur, will be nominated by President Barack Obama to be the United States’ next ambassador to Sweden, the White House announced on Friday.

White House names Obama's choice for ambassador to Sweden

As The Local reported on Tuesday, the Swedish foreign ministry recently notified American officials that they saw Barzun as an acceptable candidate for ambassador, paving the way for an official announcement of his nomination.

Barzun’ nomination was announced along with those of several other individuals to various ambassadorial and administration positions.

“I am grateful that these fine individuals will serve in my administration and I am confident that they will well represent our nation abroad and help strengthen our relationships within the international community. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead,” Obama said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

The US Embassy in Stockholm welcomed the news of Barzun’s nomination.

“The Embassy community greatly looks forward to continuing our work in Sweden under Mr. Barzun’s leadership, when he has been confirmed by the Senate,” said Charge d’affaires Robert Silverman, who has been serving as the top US envoy in Sweden since the departure of the previous US ambassador, Michael Wood.

Barzun’s nomination must first be reviewed by the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, where he will be asked to submit testimony about his qualifications as well as his plans and visions for the conduct of bilateral relations between Sweden and the United States.

Most of Barzun’s professional life was spent with CNET, a media company specializing in technology and internet-related news and information where he rose to the position of executive vice president of the company’ Business Technology group.

In 2008, Barzun then joined the National Finance Committee of Obama’ presidential election campaign, succeeding in designing events which appealed to small donors.

Barzun and his family also contributed nearly $300,000 to various Democratic candidates and party organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

He currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he heads up BrickPath LLC, an internet media advisement and investment company.

Once approved by the Foreign Relations committee, the full Senate then votes on whether or not to make Barzun the next ambassador to Sweden.

With roughly two-dozen ambassadorial nominations already waiting for approval by the Foreign Relations committee, it will likely be several weeks until before the Senate has the opportunity to hold a vote on Barzun’s nomination.

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Obama reveals he wants to work for… Spotify?

Barack Obama may be leaving the White House, but it looks like he's got his future all planned out.

Obama reveals he wants to work for... Spotify?
Barack Obama on a visit to Sweden in 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

One of Obama's favourite trips abroad was his 2013 visit to Sweden, US tech entrepreneur, podcast editor and former The Local blogger Natalia Brzezinski has revealed the president told her.

She and her husband Mark Brzezinski, who was the US ambassador to Sweden 2011-2015, were invited to the White House on Wednesday evening along with other diplomats appointed by Obama.

“I finally got the chance to thank him for the life-changing appointment to Sweden,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.

“He said word for word: 'I loved visiting you in Stockholm, it was my favourite trip. I plan to go back there really soon'.”

Obama went to Stockholm on an official state visit in 2013. And Brzezinski, the CEO of creative tech festival Symposium Stockholm, revealed she tried to tempt him back to attend its Brilliant Minds conference in June.

He did not promise anything, but did at least urge Brzezinski to “send him the details”.

Obama leaves his post on January 20th, handing over the reins to Republican president-elect Donald Trump. As for the outgoing president's future, it looks like he's got his heart set on a certain Swedish music streaming giant.

“I'm still waiting for my job at Spotify… 'cause I know y'all loved my playlist,” Brzezinski quoted him as saying.

We are pretty sure he was joking, but it is not the first time Obama has praised Sweden.

Former prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt revealed in an interview last year that the US president had told him on his visit to Stockholm that he would love to return again with his family.

“Shortly thereafter I met Michelle and Barack Obama again in New York and Michelle confirmed that Barack talked to her about it after his visit to Stockholm. I said I hoped they would find time to return after his presidency,” Reinfeldt told the Aftonbladet tabloid in September.