FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Google Chairman Bankrolls Tech Shop Exclusively for Democrats
I’ve written previously about how embedded Google, Inc., is with the Democratic Party and the Obamasphere in particular.
I was told by many that it was the stuff of tin-foil hats to believe that Google was in the tank for Democrats. They’re just working with clients after all! Why, Romney and Republicans could’ve just as easily worked with them! This isn’t partisan!
Well, now, this is just in from Bloomberg/Businessweek: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, one of Obama’s biggest boosters, is bankrolling a new for-profit endeavor being run by former Obama tech staffers that will be working exclusively for Democrats, as well as some corporate clients, in future.
“During the 2012 campaign, Barack Obama’s reelection team had an underappreciated asset: Google’s (GOOG) executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. He helped recruit talent, choose technology, and coach the campaign manager, Jim Messina, on the finer points of leading a large organization. “On election night he was in our boiler room in Chicago,” says David Plouffe, then a senior White House adviser. Schmidt had a particular affinity for a group of engineers and statisticians tucked away beneath a disco ball in a darkened corner of the office known as “the Cave.” The data analytics team, led by 30-year-old Dan Wagner, is credited with producing Obama’s surprising 5 million-vote margin of victory.
Schmidt thought enough of the team that when the campaign ended, he put up several million dollars to keep its core together as a new consulting firm, Civis Analytics, run by Wagner and staffed by two dozen of his former employees. They share ownership with Schmidt, its sole investor.
The plan is to bring the same Big Data expertise that guided the most expensive presidential campaign in history to companies and nonprofits. “The model of innovation in technology are these very young teams that have a brand-new idea, like each other, and work incredibly hard,” says Schmidt. “Venture capitalists are competing all over for these people. When you find them, you figure out what they want to do and you back them.” Or, as Wagner puts it, “The Cave is incorporating.”
Civis won’t be abandoning politics altogether. Wagner expects the company to work for Democratic candidates—and only Democrats—next year. That could taint the firm in the eyes of some potential clients if it comes to be viewed as an extension of the party. Wagner, however, sees his lineage as an unalloyed good.”
Google has been doing a lot over the past few years to position itself as “Republican-friendly.” It sponsored a media lounge at the Republican National Convention to try to boost its image with Republicans. It hired former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari. It has hired former staffers from various Republican campaigns.
But as this story makes clear, Google is still within the Democratic tent, and the biggest name associated with the company is actively working – and investing – to enable that tent to be expanded. In a two-party system, that will obviously be to the detriment of the GOP. So this is another reminder that the Republican Party needs to continue to work its collective backside off to match and then beat Democrats online. Because they’re getting help from a tech standpoint from people who clearly do not like conservatives or conservative ideas, and are evidently enchanted with Democrats and Barack Obama. And those people put their money where their mouths are, too.