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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Looking for Web-based Political News Infrastructure

Comments (18)

As you may know, Denver is hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention.  I recently met with a major media company that is looking to do a specialized political information site built around the 2008 election with an initial highlight on the Democratic Convention.  I’m interested in talking to people that have unique software approaches to building out content and community in the political vertical.

I am not looking for content providers, bloggers, or generic software vendors (unless you have a specific focus on the political vertical.)  I am looking for new, exciting, and unique approaches to this vertical, especially if you can easily integrate into an existing web framework.

In 1995 I made an investment in a company called Net.Capitol.  It was one of the very first online politics sites.  While it was mostly a directory and email list for various national politicians, it evolved in some interesting ways and had some community aspects that were way ahead of its time.  It was bought in 1997 by a public company and was a successful exit for everyone, but it more or less disappeared by the 2000 election cycle.  But – I remember tucking away the idea that politics was a great vertical market if you time it right and execute well.

Please leave comments here with links if you’re working on something relevant and/or know of people or companies playing in this sandbox.

  • Craig Wilcox

    I’ve been chatting with Seth about an idea I have for this. I’ve got a domain (simplur.com, for “simple pluralism”) and a vision, not much else. It does fit in with your other interest of data visualization and would get all ajaxie and fun if done right. It’s focused on getting people involved in the conversation as it’s happening.

  • Eric Ni

    Funny thing, reading your post.

    Months ago, I thought of an idea for a political website. I don’t have time to work on something else than what I’m currently doing, so I’m throwing it out there because someone needs to do it. Forgive me for the disorganization, I pulled it from my brain.

    The purpose of the website would be to uncover and verify the truth on significant and less significant issues afflicting our society.

    To do so, would be to use the aggregated knowledge of the community, real experts, and media sources.

    How can the site achieve this?

    Well, start out with a topic, an argument, and a related news article, commentary, etc.

    Then start linking other various news articles and sources to verify that the information presented is true.

    Those sources and articles are then subjected to the same scrutiny creating a chain that begins to form a web of information that get tied together.

    Thus, if someone wanted to know more about something, they can always go deeper until they uncover the truth.

    Linked up would be – news articles, magazines, youtube videos, video evidence taken with cellphone cameras, passages from books, virtually anything.

    For those who care enough to verify the truth, they can review all the sources and links and rate them based on their personal judgment of its validity along with adding commentary.

    The topic and argument at each level itself would eventually acquire a “truth” score.

    For those who don’t have time to verify each topic themselves, they can check the truth score. If it’s in agreement with what they believe in then they have no need to continue reading. If it’s not in agreement, then there is an incentive to find out more and learn why.

    Experts can be invited to share their points of view, which would have more weight than a normal user. They’ll be saying and participating a lot more than the edited commentary found in the news.

    As the website grows, it can also be a vehicle for whistle blowers to anonymously release information and allow it to be scrutinized by users and verified by other whistle blowers.

    Utilize Digg elements and the community would promote more discussed topics to the top.

    Truth is ultimately determined by society, but society needs to overcome ignorance in order for truth to be transparent. Such a site would be an effective platform if it was thought out and well executed. Imagine being able to verify, effortlessly, how true Fox News is.

    I’m willing to help brainstorm, if anyone is interested.

  • Chip Griffin

    Wow, this post took me back in time. I actually had a fair amount of interaction with the Net.Capitol guys back in that era because I was the CEO of Townhall.com (a public policy site) back then. Small world!

  • http://www.bulldogfinancial.com/bullblog Marc Nathan

    My brother-in-law has just started development on a very similar concept two weeks ago. I’m helping him with some high-level Web 2.0 design asthetics and business model advice, and he got a good reception from Michael Arrington at a conference last month. As an angel investor myself (though not invested in this deal yet), I think that it has significant revenue upside considering the perfect storm of the 24-hour news cycle, the explosion of blog readers (as opposed to only the writers of the last cycle), the legitimacy of online advertising in the eyes of the campaigners and most importantly – a fractionated, very contentious Presidential election that has started months earlier than previous ones. I’d of course be happy to make an introduction to him if you’d like to email me.

  • http://www.bulldogfinancial.com/bullblog Marc Nathan

    My brother-in-law has just started development on a very similar concept two weeks ago. I’m helping him with some high-level Web 2.0 design aesthetics and business model advice, and he got a good reception from Michael Arrington at a conference last month. As an angel investor myself (though not invested in this deal yet), I think that it has significant revenue upside considering the perfect storm of the 24-hour news cycle, the explosion of blog readers (as opposed to only the writers of the last cycle), the legitimacy of online advertising in the eyes of the campaigners and most importantly – a fractionated, very contentious Presidential election that has started months earlier than previous ones. I’d of course be happy to make an introduction to him if you’d like to email me.

  • http://www.participatemedia.com AlFromChicago

    Brad -
    We need to chat on some other stuff but let’s make this part of the conversation. Check out http://www.buzztracker.com/category/news and http://www.buzztracker.com/category/newsmakers

    we’re aggregating mostblogged, latest news, photos and videos across all kinds of granular topics — and as you know i just finished stint as publisher of RCP.

    I’ll follow up with Kelly

  • http://gregcohn.com/blog Greg Cohn

    Have you checked out CivicSpace? I haven’t looked in on them in a while, but they were originally building a non-forking customization of Drupal tailored for political community. It appears that work has been folded into the next Drupal version, but now they seem to have some kind of ASP model.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CivicSpace
    http://civicspacelabs.org/

  • http://LgDb.com Scott Yates

    Sounds like you are asking for something like IMDb, except instead of actors and movies you want politicians and legislation.

    The good news: LgDb.com, the Legislative Database.

    The great news: It’s operating now, and even has a business model and paying customers.

    The icing on top: We’re located in Denver!

    David Cohen even did a write-up. Only one thing has changed since that post. Contact me to find out about that change.

  • http://iyris.com Tim Smith

    Hi Brad – I hereby submit our iyris desktop alert and content management/publishing technology along with a community software vertical market website technology that we are affiliated with for this propject. Perhaps you and I could discuss this offline in more detail? Thanks, Tim

  • http://LgDb.com Scott Yates

    It sounds like what you want is something like IMDb, except instead of actors and movies it would have politicians and legislation.

    The good news: LgDb.com, the Legislative Database.

    The great news: It’s got a working business model and paying customers right now.

    The icing on top: It’s based in Colorado.

    David Cohen wrote about it. So did the Rocky Mountain News.

    Check it out!

  • Sarb Takhar

    I’ve been wokring on an idea for a couple weeks now that would be directly in this area. Its targeted more toward community building and tracking the political ambitions and political actions of politicians .. both local and national.

    Please email me and I will detail it more fully. I’m currently seeking angle investors.

  • http://www.theport.com Bob Cramer

    ThePort Network, Inc. could add significant value to this project. http://www.theport.com

  • http://www.artsalliancelabs.com Chris K

    Brad, shot you an email as well. I think that the company I work for would be perfect for what you might be looking for. We

  • Brady

    I’m not sure I fully grasp the project you are looking at. But I second taking a look at civicspace / drupal.

  • http://www.politic20.com Randall

    Brad,

    We’re still in the funding and building stages of our new project, but Politic2.0 (http://www.politic20.com) is an aggregation of social media content and presents trends and analysis. Essentially, it’s a place the public can head to try to sort through all of the blog posts and information, and come away with some sort of idea of what people are talking about, and then point them toward those ideas.

    My company, WikiReview (www.wikireview.com), is partnering with TagJungle (www.tagjungle.com) to create the site. We’re providing a way for people to voice their opinion using WikiReview, and TagJungle will provide a reflection and analaysis of blogosphere trends.

    We’re both launching within the next month, and Politic2.0 will be launching shortly after.

    Email me if you’ve got any questions, I’ll email you within a week or two if we don’t hear from you.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.xmlprofessionals.com ekepler

    I am working on a site voterslive.com to aggregate candidates rss feeds. Unfortunate few feeds exist. Would be interested in ideas people would have for a political portal.

  • http://www.spiderninja.com/ spider ninja

    Sounds sweet, I think the question is what’s going to get people involved. How about putting together a killer backend database of everything the common man might want to know about those vying to be their elected leaders…lay bare the foundation of the system so to speak. Where’s the money coming from, what did they vote for, etc…and make it super easy to access.

  • http://profitlabinc.com/ jack mardack

    One of the new powers that is ours now is the power to both gather the data and to render it visible in ways that make it useful to decision-making. The next election, I predict, is going to be SIGNIFICANTLY influenced by sites like the one you propose. Best of luck with it.

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