The Wall Street Journal

How One Tech Company is Changing Grassroots Campaigns


MobilizeAmerica is becoming the go-to platform for Democrats mobilizing grassroots activists and volunteers. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and other 2020 presidential hopefuls are using it. WSJ's Jason Bellini sat down with the company's founders. Photos: AP and Getty

NBC News' Dasha Burns gets an inside look at how one drone company is exploring the possibility of using their technology to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine when available.
In the aftermath of the horrific mob attack on Capitol Hill last week Twitter and other high-tech giants are trying to restrict conservative opinion, and any inhibitions of censorship seem to be gone. Steve Forbes on why Big Tech's censorship is a big mistake and on how their well-being ultimately depends on public goodwill (no matter how powerful these companies and organizations think they are).

What's Ahead featuring Steve Forbes provides his insights and perspective, to stay on top of what's happening in this ever-turbulent world with glimpses into the future. What's Ahead airs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
#SteveForbes #WhatsAhead
A report out this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that the Arctic is changing even faster than scientists had previously predicted. CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli explains what that means for climate action and why the U.S. may break its previous billion-dollar disaster record as climate change stirs up extreme weather and wildfires in 2020.
One Washington, D.C., business owner is providing for those in need during the pandemic.

… show captions ↓
- [Narrator] From a loft space in Manhattan,
the tech startup MobilizeAmerica,
this is one of its co-founders, Alfred Johnson,
is hoping to help the 2020 Democratic
presidential candidates optimize people power,
with a Silicon Valley-slick platform
that organizes volunteers
and helps get supporters to show up for events.
- Working with Cory Booker's campaign,
Kamala Harris' campaign,
Kirsten Gillibrand, and Pete Buttigieg.
That number we expect to grow pretty substantially.
- [Narrator] In a crowded field of presidential candidates,
the problem it's solving, Johnson says,
is the challenge of grassroots gardening.
- The whole dynamic around individual grassroots donors,
individual volunteers, being able to power campaigns,
I think is something that we're increasingly seeing
as something that's table stakes important.
- [Narrator] Johnson, before starting MobilizeAmerica
two years ago,
worked in the tech industry.
He also cut his political teeth
on President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
His co-founder, Allen Kramer,
who used to work at Bain & Company,
worked on Hillary Clinton's
presidential campaign in Virginia.
- We automate a sequence of both emails and text messages
to make sure that I actually show up.
- It's kinda hard to get people who sign up for things
to show up for them,
and they come at much higher numbers through the system.
- You know that? - We know that.
We have observed the flake rates, which is a technical term.
- Flake rates? - Flake rates.
Number of people who sign up
that flake on the shifts that they've signed up for,
and it's much less through Mobilize
than through other systems.
- We just launched this ability for volunteers
to create their own events to support a campaign,
doing things like hosting their own
canvas kickoffs or phone banks.
- But what if volunteers for Kamala
decide they wanted to host an event
where they're gonna throw eggs at Cory Booker's house?
- (laughs) So, we've built in an admin layer.
So if I submit an event,
it goes to the administrators of the campaign
to review and make sure that there aren't any typos,
the event is in line with their branding.
- [Narrator] It's part of what they're paying for
with the service.
MobilizeAmerica charges between $30 and $2,000 per month.
Nonprofits with fewer than 5,000 members
can use it for free.
The company says, ahead of last year's midterm elections,
370,000 volunteers
and almost 1,000 local state and federal campaigns
and progressive groups used the platform.
Those volunteers signed up
to knock on more than nine million doors
and made almost 10 million calls.
MobilizeAmerica was used by candidates
in some of the most high-profile contests.
- I am so proud of you.
- [Alfred] With Beto O'Rourke's campaign,
with Stacey Abrams' campaign,
with Mike Espy's special election in Mississippi.
- The ones you've just mentioned, they all lost.
- That's true, but we worked with
a tremendous number that won.
In the House of Representatives,
we worked with 35 of the 40 members
who ended up flipping seats.
- Do you have to be a Democrat?
- Do you have to be a Democrat? Currently, yes.
- So, Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks,
if he came to you wanting to use your service?
- Our current plan is to only work with Democrats.
- [Narrator] Republicans don't appear to have
a rival platform just yet,
though other companies, including one called NationBuilder,
which is nonpartisan,
offer tools for volunteer organizing.
- Could the other side galvanize quickly
and do something that's the equivalent, do you think?
- I think it would be very hard to do it quickly.
The level of data that we were able to observe
in the 2018 midterms,
I think is a great advantage that we'll have,
looking at 2020,
and thinking about what the right product ought to be.

Share Video:

Embed Video: