Obama’s tech team talks loves, hates and neck hair

November 30, 2012

You can tell that the Obama For America tech team is used to working in close quarters. At their panel at AWS re: Invent Thursday, the more than a half dozen on stage — including CTO Harper Reed – often finished each other’s sentences, stepped on each others lines and generally seemed to have a pretty good time.

It was hard (nigh impossible) to track the banter, but here are some highlights — without attribution. When Amazon posts the video, I will add the link. It’s definitely must-see viewing.

What technologies rocked their world?

There were big shoutouts to Cloudability, Chartbeat, Puppet (see disclosure), Asgard  and New Relic. “If you’re not using New Relic, you’re paying too much for devops people and you’re doing it wrong,” said one team member.

What left you cold?

Anti-shout out to Exchange.

What are your cardinal rules?

“We don’t care what technology you run as long as it works … and that’s why we’re all moving to Azure,” noted one member. All that was missing was a drum roll.

Why no women?

There were no females on stage, but the team gave props to women on the team, including Carol Davidsen. She wrote the Optimizer that analyzed TV demographics and allowed the campaign to buy “really cheap” targeted ads instead of using that money to pay for ads on big national outlets. Because of Optimizer, “we were able to go niche,” said Reed.

Techies need to make their workplace more hospitable to women, he said. “There’s a lot of neck beardiness — you guys here need to get better,” he told the audience that was mostly male and mostly (presumably) techies. “Innovation comes from diversity.”

Will their work for the campaign be productized?

They don’t know. But if it doesn’t live beyond the campaign itself, someone noted, “we have failed.”

What next for them?

Some of the team are looking for jobs, so check them out. Starting salary? Oh, about $750K.

Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

(c) 2012, GigaOM.com.

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