Matthew Spence

Matthew Spence

William J. Perry Fellow
Visiting Scholar

Stanford University
Encina Hall, E210
Stanford, CA 94305

(650) 724-5694 (voice)

Research Interests

National security and technology | cybersecurity | U.S. defense policy and foreign policy decision making | The Middle East | Entrepreneurship and investment in emerging economies.


Dr. Matthew Spence is a William J. Perry Fellow at Stanford University, where he teaches the CISAC Fellows Policy Seminar. He is also partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Prior to entering the private sector, Dr. Spence spent six years in senior national security positions in the U.S. government.  From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Spence served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, where he was the principal advisor to three Secretaries of Defense for U.S. policy towards the Middle East. He was responsible for fourteen countries, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, Egypt, and the Gulf states.  During his time at the Pentagon, Dr. Spence traveled to the region over 30 times, and played a central role in U.S.-Israel military planning, the cyber attack on Saudi Aramco, arms sales, and policy dialogues about Iran, Syria, Egypt, and the Middle East Peace Process.

Dr. Spence also served in a senior role on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s confirmation and transition team.  He received the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service.

From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Spence worked at the White House on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economic Affairs and as Senior Advisor to two National Security Advisors. In that capacity, he traveled with and briefed President Obama in trips to over 30 countries, participated over 300 national security meetings with the President’s cabinet, and prepared the National Security Advisor for over 500 of the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefings He worked on issues ranging from cyber security, trade, Asia policy, and the operation against Osama bin Ladin. He also served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.

Dr. Spence is a Senior Fellow at the Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges and the NYU Center on Law and Security.  Dr. Spence is the co-founder of the Truman National Security Project, was a Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University, and has been widely published in national security and foreign policy, including in the Yale Law Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.  Trained as a lawyer, Dr. Spence also practiced criminal and international law in California, and served as a law clerk for Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. A Marshall Scholar and Truman Scholar, Dr. Spence received his doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University; J.D. from Yale Law School; and B.A. and M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University. He was born and raised in southern California.