When Shumik Dutta The Beverly Hoover met for the first time in 2007, he is She was coordinating fundraising efforts and getting out of the vote for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign and was deputy campaign field director.
During the next two election sessions, the two will become part of the fundraising and organizing team that has transformed politics through its use of technology – which is supposed to lay the foundation for years of democratic hegemony in fundraising, fundraising, and grassroots advocacy.
Then he came Donald Trump and the 2016 election.
For both Dutta and Hoover, the result of 2016 was a wake-up call against complacency. What was successful for the Democratic Party in 2008 and 2012 will not be effective in future election cycles, so they have set up an investment firm Upper Earth Labs To provide funding and Launchpad for new businesses Serving democratic campaigns and progressive organizations.
"Dutta says that as the political world shifts from analog to digital, we need a lot of tools to capture this spending. "Democrats spend an average of 70 cents on every dollar raised on television ads, and we are addicted to the old ways of campaigning." If we want to activate and engage a permanent majority of voters, we have to go where they are (and this is increasingly online) We are adapting to be able to conduct these talks wherever they are. "
Social media and the rise of "direct consumer"
While the Obama campaign effectively used the Internet as a mobilization tool in its campaigns, the lessons learned from social media and mobile technology that offer a "direct consumer" policy bypass traditional standards, in the following years, have been harnessed more effectively by conservative organizations, According to some scientists and activists.
"The Internet is a tool and in this sense it is neutral, but like other communication tools of the past, people who are more powerful, more resourceful, and more organized, have benefited from it," Jen Schradie, To change science in Paris, Vox said in an interview earlier this month.
Schradie is the author of his last book,Revolution that was not" Early Internet applications are said to be a progressive regulatory tool that has been overtaken by more conservative elements. "The idea of neutrality seems more honest on the Internet because the costs of distributing information are significantly lower than costs such as television, radio or other communication tools," she said. "However, to take full advantage of the Internet, I still need resources and a lot of time and motivation … people who can afford it and who can finance the right digital strategy are creating a huge imbalance in their interest."
Sharadi claims to be a network of think tanks, media institutions and private-sector radio broadcasting And – increasingly – mobile phone applications Woven stitch purses in social media fabric. The The tendency of the center to promote polarization and margin perspectives Also helped inflate the views of critics who had previously been thought to be political extremists.
Essentially, these sites enabled commentators and personalities to create a mix of "grassroots" organizations and media operations devoted to reaching an audience that accepts their own political message funded by donor billionaires and non-political advertising dollars.
Then there are technology companies, such as Cambridge Analytics, Which incorrectly used access to Facebook data for targeting purposes – funded by the same billionaires.
"The last six years have seen millions and millions of dollars in private money and money from Mercer, which has gone into highly sophisticated data and media efforts to boost the Republican agenda," Dutta said. "I want even a range."
Dutta refers to Charles and David Koch And Robert Mercer, Descendant and founder (respectively) of the family strains worth billions. The Koch brothers support a network of political advocacy groups, while Mercer and his daughter were top supporters of the Pretret News and Cambridge Analytica, two organizations that claimed to have provided much of the political foundations and online political mechanism for Trump's presidential campaign.
But there is also a simple fact that Donald Trump's digital strategy director, Brad Parskel, Was able to effectively and inexpensively use the tools of social media and data collected by the National Republican Committee that was already available to the candidate who won the Republican primary. In fact, in the wake of Romney's loss, Republicans spent years creating profiles of 200 million Americans for correspondence in the 2016 election.
"These guys from Facebook walked to my office and said," We have a trial version … It's a new tool on board … You can reach the masses directly on Facebook and match them to Facebook's own accounts. "Said Parscale, campaign manager for the 2020 president's re-election campaign. Their, "according to Forbes .
During the 2016 campaign Hillary Clinton The team produced 66,000 video ads, according to Parscale, while Trump launched 5.9 million ads using social media and the language of the Mimat. In the run-up to the 2020 election, Parscale intends to return to the same situation well. Trump has already spent more than $ 5 million on Facebook ads in the current election cycle, to me New York times– Each Democratic candidate has passed one in the field and nearly all Democrats are together.
Access to the upper ground
Dota and Hoover are working to compensate this movement with their own investments. Back in 2017, Two of the upper ground laboratories were launched, A company accelerator at an early stage and an investment firm dedicated to financing technology companies that can support progressive causes.
The company has $ 15 million of investors including Reed Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock; Ron Conway, founder of SV Angel and an early supporter of Google, Facebook and Twitter; Chris Saca, an early investor at Ober; and Elizabeth Cutler, founder of SoulCycle. Previously, High areas Invested in more than thirty companies focused on services such as call advocacy, polling, campaign organization – among others.
"It's important that Democrats learn to do their campaigns online," Dutta said. "The way volunteers are recruited; the way emotions are explored; the way in which voters are targeted and mobilized with tools on the Internet must be improved in progressive movement and the mission of the" higher ground laboratories "is reform.
Dutta says profitable companies have a crucial role to play in organizing and mobilizing elections. Thanks to government regulation, private companies are only allowed to trade data across institutions and causes (provided they do so at fair market value). This means that advocacy groups, trade unions and others can benefit from the information collected by these companies for a fee.
The Democratic Party already has a high-value private company that uses its technology services. Formed from the merger of NGP Software and Voter Activation Network, two companies that began operations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, NGP VAN Is the largest provider of software and technology services for democratic campaigns. It is also a high-value company, which received about $ 100 million in funding last year from private equity firm Insight Venture Partners, according to people familiar with the investment. Transaction terms are not disclosed.
"Our vision was to build a platform that will break down the painful data silos in campaigns and non-profit spaces, deliver the best digital features and raise and organize funds that can serve both the largest and the smallest." Written by Stu Trevelyan, NGP VAN + EveryAction, In August the blog advertising investment. "We are very excited because others, like our new Insight partners, share that vision, and we can not wait to continue to innovate and grow together in the coming years."
Emerging companies can lead the way?
Although private equity dollars strengthen the firepower of organizations such as NGP VAN, capitalists finance many companies from Upper Earth Labs Wallet.
Seves Analytics, A startup founded by former chief analyst of the 2012 Barack Obama re-election campaign Raised $ 22 million from overseas investors Higher Earth Laboratories are counted among its supporters. Qriously, a company of other high ground ground laboratories, Obtained by Brandwatch, As was GroundBase, a messaging platform obtained by the progressive nonprofits advocacy organization Shortcut.
Other portfolio companies also attract serious interest from investors. Such as the lead Seves Analytics And hustle, Which Raised $ 30 million In May showed that investors share the proposition that these companies can build sustainable businesses that serve democratic and progressive political campaigns and companies that also want to mobilize employees or allocate marketing to customers.
These are companies like Change research, A company at an early stage just launched from Accelerated Land Labs last year. The company, founded by Mike Greenfield, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, was the first data scientist to detect fraud in PayPal, and Ray Riley, a communications specialist working with state and local Democrats, reduces the cost of politics.
"I wanted to do something for American democracy to try to improve the state of things," Greenfield said in an interview last year.
For Greenfield, this meant increasing access to polling information. He cited testing the state of Kansas's special election in an area where Donald Trump won 27 points. Using his own poll data, Greenfield predicted that Democratic rival James Thompson would pose a major threat to his Republican rival, Mike Estes.
Estes went to 7% Victory in the ballotGreenfield said the Thomson campaign had not been able to access polling data that could have helped inform his reporter – and perhaps – influence the election.
"Public opinion is used to figure out who can be the most successful based on how much money they can collect for a poll," Riley said. Another way is that electoral politics tends to favor people with the disposable income to spend little money on campaigns.
Surveys alone could cost between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 – and Change Research could cut that by 80% to 90%, according to the company's founders.
"It's safe to say that most of the world was surprised by the result [of the Presidential election] Because most polls predicted the opposite. "Being a good American and a parent of a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old girl provides candidates who look forward and give the kind of insight they need to win the ballot and the bottom can not be just a good idea to work, but really help us save our democracy. "
Changing research is not just a vote for politicians. Last year, the company conducted nearly 500 referenda for political candidates and advocacy groups.
"The way I have described change research for investors is that we want to move the world simultaneously in a better direction and have a positive impact while building a large business," says Greenfield. "We will only work with the candidates and the reasons we are allied with them."
Dutta says that focusing exclusively on progressive causes is not the responsibility that many in the wider business community believe. Many democratic organizations do not work with companies that sell services to both sides of the corridor.
For High Ground Labs, their money is required not to work with any Republican candidate. Companies are fine, but the reasons and prohibited organizations are prohibited.
"We are experiencing an existential crisis in America and this Republican Party is very toxic to the health and future of our country," Dutta said. "The only way out of this mess is to vote for the Republicans from the service and doing that we need to facilitate good candidates to run for office and involve a wider audience to vote regularly."