Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
A how-to blog for Chicago business

Why Obama Hired Threadless' Harper Reed as CTO

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    You might not have ever heard of Harper Reed, but Threadless wouldn't have been a household name without him. As chief technology officer there, Reed lead a team of engineers through the execution and maintenance of skinnyCorp's community websites -- so it's no shock the Obama administration has snatched him up for the 2012 campaign in the same role.

    Sure, we can expect Obama's re-election T-shirts to maybe get a little hipper as a result, but really what the president's getting is a guy who's a master at managing communities and whipping tech into shape to collaboratively meet their needs. Obama has long made his enthusiasm for technology clear, and it was reiterated in late April when he launched his re-election bid via an avalanche of mass e-mails, text messages, a YouTube video, Twitter posts, and a Facebook video with a simple question: "Are you in?"

    But why did the Obama campaign snatch Reed up out of all other potential candidates? All signs seem to be pointing at what Reed has been up to after leaving Threadless in 2009. As "weekend projects," he launched civic-minded sites like CTAAlerts.com, ProximityCheckin.com, and Supertrackr.com. He became interested in "personal informatics," or breaking down minutiae about his own life into an almost absurd level of data. A blog post on Reed's site analyzes how many steps per day, how often he tweets, and much sleep per night he got last year. ("Apparently I am a slacker" he says, perhaps ironically.)

    Campaigning is still undoubtedly a ground game -- kissing babies can't be done via Facebook -- but it's been well established by this point, the Internet has to be embraced. To win, Obama has to not just embrace the Internet's capabilities, but innovate upon them. Reed seems capable of answering "yes we can" to any tech request the president might have to help assure his victory next year.