obama_sanfranHe’s been president of the United States for about two-and-a-half  years, but Barack Obama still remembers being a “start-up” — and he wouldn’t mind being as popular as SpongeBob SquarePants.

The Democratic president, who is in the middle of a road show to sell his ideas for cutting the deficit, spent the evening in San Francisco on Wednesday raising money for his campaign, and he targeted tech-savvy donors who had started successful companies of their own.

“Some of you are involved in start-ups, well I was a start-up just not so long ago,” Obama told a dinner fundraiser at the home of Marc Benioff, the chief executive of salesforce.com.

There’s big money in California. Donors paid as much as $35,800  a piece to dine with the president or hear him speak.

Earlier in the day the president held a townhall meeting at the social networking giant Facebook. At a second fundraiser later in the evening, he said he was pleased that his own Facebook page was so popular.