Guided by its scrappy startup ethic, Silicon Valley has disrupted entrenched industries from hotels to rental cars to pizza delivery, but a group of tech barons are raising the stakes with what may be their biggest challenge yet: American democracy.
Former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker will command a $9.3 million war chest as CEO of Brigade Media LLC, a startup aimed at improving civic engagement in the U.S., according to an SEC filing made Monday.
With financial backing from other Silicon Valley bigwigs, including early Google investor Ron Conway and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Brigade will take aim at boosting political engagement in government from the federal level down to state and local politics. “When you get beyond the federal level and certain statewide offices, most voters don’t know who’s making decisions on their behalf,” one anonymous source reportedly familiar with the matter told Politico.
Other big Silicon Valley names will join Parker on the company’s board, including Adam Conner as vice president of politics, John Thrall as vice president of engineering and David Henke on the board.
Citing anonymous insiders, Alex Wilhelm at Techcrunch reports Brigade will address the view that American democracy is not “scaling” properly to keep pace with changes in American society. Brigade, he says, will apply digital solutions to help voters stay informed and choose leaders.