Oren Michels | Co-Founder & GM
November 19, 2012

The Campaign That Did It Again: A Conversation with Harper Reed, Dylan Richard, & Ian Dees


It’s been just over a week since the election and we were privileged to have a conversation with the Obama for America campaign CTO Harper Reed (LinkedIn title: Amazing), Director of Engineering Dylan Richard (LinkedIn title: NERD!), and Engineer Ian Dees (LinkedIn title: Engineer).  Harper and team have gotten a lot of media coverage – from outlets as diverse as GigaOm and Ars Technica to the Atlantic and Mother Jones - for the role they played in driving the most technologically advanced campaign in history.

The tech team built a very sophisticated API and implemented Mashery as the platform that allowed people outside of the technology department – including front-end developers, a satellite tech team in California, and others – to build apps. According to Harper, Mashery "allowed us to take baby steps toward the grand vision of getting more people to develop apps."

Mashery’s platform and portal let developers create apps for mobile, for volunteers, and for events without having to deal with complex API code and without adding more work for the tech team. Mashery handled the access and authentication so the tech team could focus on the tough stuff on the back end that drove increasingly sophisticated data mining and targeting capabilities for the campaign. Dylan Richard said, “The Mashery Portal and front-end stuff was great. The Custom Connector was amazing and worked really well. We used Mashery heavily to support a lot of events toward the end of the campaign, which required smaller apps that did things like allow people to sign up for volunteer activities.” 

When asked what’s next on the technology front, Harper said, “We’re in the unconvenient, if that’s a word, position of having built huge infrastructure to support millions of volunteers and thousands of employees for a singular purpose so predicting the future would be like Google predicting startups.” That said, Harper would like to see technologists focus on a few things:

  1. Listen to people. Built what they need.
  2. Create software that works in real time.
  3. Make technology more community based – Github accounts help.
  4. Use the things that solve the problem best.

We’ll be keeping an eye on what Harper and his cohorts do next – whatever it is, it’s sure to be amazing.