Big News: RNC Lauches In-House Startup Initiative

Daniel Doherty
Posted: Feb 04, 2014 11:45 AM
Big News: RNC Lauches In-House Startup Initiative

The so-called “tech gap” between Republicans and Democrats during the last election cycle was painfully evident. Remember, the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) own internal post-mortem report freely concluded, after the last election, that their data mining game was inferior to Democrats, and in many ways, obsolete. Now, however, the RNC is launching its own startup in the hopes of attracting young talent to augment and improve the RNC’s digital ground game and get-out-the-vote initiatives.

Closing this gap is incredibly important, of course, but it can only happen after building the necessary infrastructure and bringing in the talented experts who are committed to electing Republicans at the national, state, and local level.

From the WSJ:

The Republican National Committee is launching a startup.

The staid, slightly clubby party committee is trying to recast its image for the digital age in the hopes of matching – and someday surpassing – the gains Democrats made in targeting voters during the last two presidential elections.

The RNC Tuesday is announcing the formation of Para Bellum Labs, an in-house technology incubator that combines the committee’s data-analytics arm with its digital-marketing unit. As part of that effort, the committee is on the prowl for programmers and other engineers to staff its latest venture.

But how, exactly, will the RNC entice recent college grads to work for the RNC and not some private-sector enterprise where they can earn more money? It won’t be easy, the RNC’s chief data officer concedes:

Part of the GOP’s challenge is convincing engineers and other young tech wizards to forego a private-sector career to instead help elect Republicans in federal, state and local elections. To that end, Azarias Reda, the RNC’s chief data officer, is making the rounds at top engineering schools and other tech-savvy locales to convince potential recruits that the committee offers them something other companies can’t.

“When it comes to recruiting top talent, our competition isn’t the Democratic Party – it’s the Facebooks, LinkedIns and Googles of the world,” Mr. Reda said in a release set to go out Tuesday.

Added RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”

But the RNC is making the pitch nonetheless:

In its pitch, the RNC is trying to convince these engineers that they will have all of the freedom of a startup to create new ways to improve turnout as well as a guaranteed funding stream that most Silicon Valley ventures would covet.

“We are here to push the envelope when it comes to how you manage, analyze and take advantage of data,” Mr. Reda said in a video that accompanies the launch.

And the pitch is solid:

In a video to promote the new effort, one member of the new data team says, “The cool thing about this is the fact that I am literally working to elect the next president…You can go try to work on the West Coast and potentially make a cool app, or you can actually physically change history.”

Changing history, I suspect, will induce more than a few center-right college graduates to re-think their career prospects. Nonetheless, a source at the RNC tells Townhall that the new data team is already on the road today -- at Georgia Tech, in fact -- the first of five college campuses they will visit specifically for recruitment purposes.

Watch the promotional video below to learn more about this important new initiative: