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A D.C. tech firm heads to Davos to outline its plans for building a global network

Fiscalnote chief executive Tim Hwang (photo courtesy of FiscalNote)
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The 25-year-old chief executive of D.C.-based start-up FiscalNote is representing D.C.’s tech scene before a global audience of financiers and world leaders this week, as he trumpets his young company’s new international push at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland.

Tim Hwang was set to announce Thursday that FiscalNote is buying a Brussels-based counterpart called Shungham, giving the company a foothold in the European Union as it seeks to expand globally. The company started eyeing international markets about 18 months ago, Hwang says, and it now has extended its reach to some 40 different countries.

This includes developing markets in the European Union, Africa and Southeast Asia, where the availability of government information can vary widely.

“It’s not that these governments don’t want to put this information out there, it’s just that the infrastructure hasn’t been built yet,” Hwang said.

Hwang pitches his technology as a bridge between two competing global trends. Many businesses are seeking to globalize their operations at a time when populist leaders around the world are turning inward, eschewing trade deals in favor of national interests.

All of this means multinational corporations have to operate a sort of “shadow State Department,” as Hwang puts it, to navigate the unique norms and regulations that define each country’s way of doing business.

To solve this problem, Hwang says he wants to turn FiscalNote into a centralized repository for information on government regulations on every country around the world. FiscalNote does this by using advanced data analytics to help companies understand complex regulatory environments.

An Internet service provider, for instance, might use the platform to compare U.S. state legislatures’ actions around privacy and net neutrality, for example, aggregating information classically handled by statehouse reporters at regional news organizations. The platform can aggregate social media postings from key individuals for hints on how they might vote on a bill.

The company has attracted backing from some big names in the tech world. The firm has received funding from Chevy Chase-based venture fund New Enterprise Associates, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Mark Cuban and others. Since its founding in 2013, the company’s revenue has grown to the “mid tens of millions,” Hwang said, a figure that has roughly doubled every year.

Hwang said the company is looking at other acquisitions in key markets around the world as it seeks to merge its analytical platform with that of its best counterparts elsewhere. Last summer, the firm bought Baton Rouge-based VoterVoice, a technology platform targeted for advocates.