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In New Videos, Obama Campaign Courts the Tech Vote

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 19 2012

The Obama campaign's arm for outreach to the tech sector, Tech4Obama, today released a series of videos featuring big Silicon Valley names voicing their support for the president's re-election.

Dave Morin of Path, Greylock's Reed Hastings, and Craigslist's Craig Newmark are all among the people to deliver their endorsement in this round of videos.

It might seem given the generally leftward list of the California electorate, and the degree to which prominent Silicon Valley figures like Chris Hughes supported Obama in 2008, that the nation's bytebasket would be a lost cause for Romney. This is not the case. There is a small but vocal minority of Romney supporters in the California-centric Internet industry sphere, including some prominent names.

While both candidates have raised money in Silicon Valley, the Obama campaign has gone further than Romney when it comes to technology outreach. Obama for America has an outpost in San Francisco, led by Catherine Bracy, a former staffer at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Angus Durocher, once YouTube's lead web developer. Obama's technology team has toured the country as part of the campaign's fundraising efforts, with people like digital director Teddy Goff and chief digital strategist Joe Rospars meeting with supporters at events. The campaign's chief technology officer, Harper Reed, specifically addressed the New York tech scene at a (sadly closed-press) event at Tech4Obama's Midtown West headquarters in September.

The New York Tech Meetup, where Personal Democracy Media co-founder Andrew Rasiej is board chairman, invited both campaigns to explain their innovation and entrepreneurship policies to that community in video messages. Both replied with letters instead. Romney's did not use the word "Internet" once or even directly reference the Internet, while it did raise the issue of visas for skilled immigrants. Obama's letter, however, covered visas but also broadband networks, open data and patent reform.