I began working on Tech on Politics nearly a year ago with my partner and co-founder Bettina Warburg. After nearly a decade in the political arena, I was eager to put pen to paper — to get as many of my thoughts recorded as possible. You can imagine, after supporting nearly 70,000 political campaigns — from small to large — I’ve seen a lot.
The average political operative will get to work with and touch maybe a handful of political campaigns within a given political cycle — perhaps dozens or hundreds if they formed their own firm and spent 10+ years in the industry. Between the launch of Piryx and Rally — I had the the privilege of touching nearly 700x the average number of political campaigns a given individual might get to work with in a career as a political operative in about half the amount of time. Needless to say, I learned a few things.
I also had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the top silicon valley venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs. Individuals and firms that have easily generated hundreds of billions of dollars of value across the entire internet ecosystem. It was a rare vantage point. I was one of a few helping to shape and mold the political internet revolution; while at the same time getting an opportunity to sit across the table from the shapers and makers of many of the internet technologies we now take for granted nearly every day.
I thought about writing a book, I thought about an online TV show. But neither of those options seemed right. Podcasting has been an internet tool for some time now. It’s favor has wavered over the years — but I have to give a lot of credit to the crew over at Gimlet Media and the producers of the Serial Podcast. What they created was truly a thing of beauty. The production quality of their podcast series was like listening to a story and a magazine all baked into one. It was — for all intents and purposes — just plain delicious. These early creators have sparked an audio revolution in their own way — and when you combine that with a greater degree of technological accessibility and the rise of the creative class. Something magical was happening.
Over 33% of internet users have downloaded or listened to a podcast — The Serial Podcast, has almost 100M downloads. Apple iTunes podcast subscribers, it’s in the multiple of billions. The numbers are just staggering and the engagement among listeners is remarkable.
So when Bettina and I decided to move forward, podcasting just seemed like the right medium for sharing and distributing our content. That said, it’s taken us nearly a year just to get it right. Outside of trying to understand how the whole world works, setting our production quality standards to that of Serial, Gimlet, and This American Life was a huge priority. We’ve also had an intense focus on finding the right guests to bring on the show.
Needless to say, we were super pumped to finally get Episode 1 of Tech on Politics out to our friends, family, and business colleagues. I certainly can’t say we’ve had the explosive download numbers of of Serial — but within the first 7 days — we will have grown to over 1000 downloads. We couldn’t be more excited that this many people will have heard from Eric Ries by the end of the first week, and we couldn’t be more happy to share his words of wisdom.
Eric has been a remarkable mentor and friend of the years. My interview with Eric had many memorable moments during the 1.5 hours that we recorded together — of which we whittled down to 18 minutes of sizzling hot content from one of the top startup founders in silicon valley.
My favorite quote from the interview:
“best practices are not transferable from place to place… but principles are”
I’ve learned a lot from my time in silicon valley as a tech entrepreneur trying to grab a tiger by the tail, and I’ve learned a lot about the inner workings of our political systems. At the end of the day, this has been transformed into tacit knowledge that I’m eager to try and share with as many people as possible. As the host of Tech on Politics, I promise to do my best to help transfer the principals of our top practitioners to the hands of those of you who desire to take action. We need a new breed of political entrepreneur.
Our country — our global citizenry — folks, we are in trouble. It’s that simple. I can barely read the headlines these days, it makes me cringe. I’m enormously disappointed in many of our leaders. I can barely comprehend how I’m suppose to choose between the lesser of two evils — and that’s my only choice, my only option. That’s a sad state of affairs. We need to find a better way. It’s time for things to change.
I hope you enjoy the show and I hope you learn a few things along the way. Perhaps if we try to have a new conversation — we can find a way to change things.
Good luck and stay tuned for Episode 2 of Tech on Politics with our next guest, Michael Fertik, Founder of Reputation.com. You won’t want to miss this one.