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These political data experts are going corporate

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Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Three former Democratic Party data analyst experts just launched a new startup, Zoom launched its take on a contact center service, and Tonga gets its internet cable back.

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Data analysis partisans climb out of the DC trenches

Lindsey Schuh Cortés, Matt Taverna and Bryan Whitaker spent the last decade dragging Democratic voter data and analytics strategies into the modern age. Now they’re leaving politics.

The trio, hailing from data organizations that have been integral to how Democrats use voter data, has launched Statara Solutions, a commercial data and analytics startup serving nonpartisan clients like nonprofits, trade associations, universities and corporate clients. These three won’t be the first campaign junkies to take their experiences in the electoral trenches to greener industry pastures.

  • “I need a little break from politics,” said Lindsey Schuh Cortés, Statara’s CEO.
  • Schuh Cortés also led progressive analytics shop BlueLabs as CEO and more recently served as CEO at the Democratic Data Exchange.
  • The exchange launched late during the pandemic-dampened 2020 campaign cycle to share voter contact information among Democratic state parties and like-minded advocacy groups, an approach that had already been taken by Republicans.

Her co-founders, Matt Taverna, 40, and Bryan Whitaker, 42, are also veterans of progressive data tech efforts.

  • The pair has spent the better part of the past decade providing data and services solely to Democrats and left-leaning groups at TargetSmart, the party’s go-to voter file management company.
  • But don’t expect a partisan mission statement on Statara’s website, said Whitaker, who serves as a principal.
  • “There's no red or blue or even purple,” Whitaker said, explaining that the company wants to focus on working with organizations that need help with things like donor outreach.

A team of seven, Statara will provide analytics services and help clients run advertising and marketing campaigns using custom data and models built from both commercial data and, when regulations and licensing allows, voter information. It’s also offering packaged, Statara-branded data for ad targeting in a cloud marketplace.

  • Keeping track of how and where to contact people has always been an elementary need for unions, advocacy groups and political campaigns that want to find likely supporters or hit up previous donors.
  • Now, amid upheavals in digital tracking and targeting technologies, the ability to identify people within today’s data and privacy constraints has become increasingly important to political and commercial organizations.
  • Taverna and Whitaker said Statara’s ability to identify an individual and match historical information about that person over time is core to the company’s overall capabilities.
  • “Bryan, Lindsey and I learned from politics that there's nothing better than knowing a real, hard fact about someone and putting that in a single record or a single ID,” said Taverna.

Statara faces headwinds from nonpartisan data operations such as political and commercial data consultancy L2 as well as smaller nonprofit fundraising agencies and bigger data services such as Acxiom, Experian and Merkle.

  • L2, which offers voter file data to left- and right-leaning organizations as well as commercial data, also works with universities, assisting in fundraising using its consumer data services.
  • “We produce this thing to inform the voter file; why don’t we make it an independent product?” said Paul Westcott, L2's executive vice president of Sales and Marketing, explaining why L2 works with customers outside politics.
  • Westcott said he has seen a “big appetite” among nonpolitical customers for user-friendly data tools and quick turnarounds, things larger data services firms “tend not to have but [are] critical for political [clients].”

Taverna said Schuh Cortés’ ability to speak externally to the needs of clients while making sure internal teams are on the same page is rare.

  • “That's a very hard thing to do. I have tried and failed,” Taverna said. “She's always been really great at being able to keep both perspectives in mind.”
  • But away from the pressure cooker, some people who leave politics have a tendency to get bored, said Grace Briscoe, senior vice president of Client Development at digital ad company Basis Technologies, who has worked closely with its political campaign clients for years.
  • “You have to be a sort of adrenaline junkie to work in politics,” she said.

— Kate Kaye (email| twitter)


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After losing Five9, Zoom launches its own contact center service

After a few setbacks, Zoom has officially entered the contact center space. The company announced the release of its contact center service on Wednesday, which adds a modern flavor to the traditional call center by infusing video.

Zoom wants potential contact center customers to think of the new service as a natural extension of the company's leadership in remote work, collaboration and communications. The company hopes to engage current Zoom clients who may be looking to add contact center capabilities, but don't want another vendor in their tech stack.

While the initial release of Zoom contact center won't have all the features of the traditional players, the company plans to add new features and capabilities over time. Even so, Zoom's video prowess could prove to be a differentiator in the market, especially when it comes to servicing high-touch customer interactions like those in wealth management or specialty retail.

This isn't Zoom's first foray into the contact center market. Last year Zoom made an attempt to acquire call center software company Five9, but shareholders rejected the $14.7 billion deal. Still, the company maintains partnerships with many of the major cloud players, including NICE InContact, Genesys and — of course — Five9.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Tonga gets its cable back

The undersea volcanic eruption near Tonga last month was a reminder that connectivity is fragile in many parts of the world. The explosion and resulting tsunami took out a key cable linking Tonga with Fiji and the rest of the internet, but according to The Record service was restored earlier this week.

“The recent incident has also provided the opportunity to our team to look at increased investment and network optimization to plan and prepare better for a catastrophic event of such nature in the future,” Digicel CEO Anthony Seuseu said in a press release. While servicing remote islands in the South Pacific is a unique challenge, there are plenty of other places on the planet where natural disasters could disrupt connectivity for a prolonged period of time.

Given even modest projections for the effects of climate change, resiliency is going to be one of the most important factors in enterprise tech infrastructure planning for decades to come.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Cloudflare announced plans to acquire Area 1 Security for $162 million, a few weeks after it bought cloud access security broker Vectrix for an undisclosed amount.

Ukrainian companies reported that a second “data wiper” attack on their systems surfaced Wednesday as Russian troops continued to flood into Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia-friendly separatists.

Former-Amazon-now-Microsoft executive Charlie Bell surfaced in an interview with the Wall Street Journal as Microsoft rolled out new ways to use some of its security services on Google Cloud.

Five9 reported better-than-expected earningson the same day of Zoom’s new service launch, although investors were disappointed that it didn’t raise its quarterly outlook.


How do you maximize Sales and Marketing performance? Point them at the same targets. Watch the latest episode of Club Revenue on Nasdaq as Bhaskar Roy, Chief Marketing Officer at Workato, reveals his remarkable tactics so that Marketing and Sales can outperform.

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