Earlier this year, you might have read or heard about our mission to leverage technology to tackle the problem of declining citizen power and engagement in democracy, along with news about a $9.5 million investment from Silicon Valley heavyweights Ron Conway and Marc Benioff and our Executive Chairman Sean Parker.
Today we’re pleased to announce that Brigade Media has acquired a controlling stake in Philotic Inc., the company that owns Causes, the world’s largest online campaigning platform, and political advocacy startup Votizen, which was bought by Philotic in 2013. This is one of the first steps we’re taking to re-energize interest in democracy by bringing together people who are passionate about different issues in their communities, cities, states and countries, and allowing them to take action.
Since Causes launched in 2007 as the first social good app on Facebook, 186 million registered users in 156 countries have raised over $48 million for nonprofits, collected 34 million signatures for grassroots advocacy campaigns and created hundreds of thousands of online groups around important social issues. Separately, Votizen helped voters learn about issues and elections, and take collective action through social media. We believe there is great power in the technology that Causes and Votizen helped build and today’s acquisition supports Brigade’s goal of tackling one of the last areas of our society nearly untouched by technology: civic engagement.
Brigade will serve as a tool to empower people civically, enabling any person to engage with their representatives in a way that is easy, social and enjoyable. Acquiring Causes, which was focused on the non-profit space, adds the unique expertise needed to build an infrastructure powerful enough to elevate the voices of citizens and improve the relationship between elected officials and their constituents.
Causes.com and campaigns built on the platform will continue to function for now, however the Causes brand and technology will eventually be retired. Our engineering and product teams have already begun working on building out Brigade.com, which will open up new and better opportunities for civic engagement.
In addition to the community and technology, a couple of leaders from Causes are moving into key executive roles at Brigade. Matt Mahan, who played a strategic role in growing Causes as its CEO, will become CEO of Brigade. James Windon, who served as VP of Revenue at Causes, will become President of Brigade and will be responsible for overseeing partnerships and future monetization. Sean will continue to drive product vision and will work with Matt and James on certain strategic functions of the company.
Matt previously managed business development at Causes and has experience in political campaigning and community organizing. In a former life, James worked as a corporate lawyer and in international development for the World Trade Organization. Matt and James will manage the day-to-day operations of Brigade and build out a world-class team to bring political power back to the people.
Filling out the Brigade leadership team are Jason Putorti, former lead designer at Mint.com and Votizen co-founder, who will serve as VP of Design; Miche Capone, former designer at 500 Startups and Votizen’s head of product, who will become VP of Product; and Andrew Noyes, longtime journalist and former Uber Technologies and Facebook PR executive, who will serve as VP of Communications.
Matt, James, Jason, Miche and Andrew will join recently announced Brigade staff including Adam Conner, VP of Politics and former Manager of Public Policy at Facebook, and John Thrall, Chief Technology Officer and former Yahoo! VP of Mobile Engineering.
So what’s next for Brigade? Overcoming 50 years of declining participation in democracy and feelings of powerlessness, disconnectedness and disenfranchisement by big interest groups and big money takes time, energy, and resources. As we ramp up, we’re looking for engineers, product designers and political strategists who share our vision to build an easy, effective, and enjoyable platform that brings political power back to the people.
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements and be sure to follow us on Twitter!
— The Brigade Team