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Barack Obama's campaign for president has raised a staggering $200 million from contributors through the Web, tapping Valley talent like Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Mark Gorenberg, a VC with Hummer Winblad. Obama has surpassed fundraising efforts by his primary opponent Hillary Clinton, even though she's raised more money for her campaign than her husband, former President Bill Clinton, ever did in winning an election. And he's doing it under the rules put in place by the Republican candidate, John McCain, under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. You can read all the details in The Atlantic's 5,243-word feature by Joshua Green, but a summary, 98-word paragraph is all you need to read.

"If the typical Gore event was 20 people in a living room writing six-figure checks, and the Kerry event was 2,000 people in a hotel ballroom writing four-figure checks, this year for Obama we have stadium rallies of 20,000 people who pay absolutely nothing, and then go home and contribute a few dollars online." Obama himself shrewdly capitalizes on both the turnout and the connectivity of his stadium crowds by routinely asking them to hold up their cell phones and punch in a five-digit number to text their contact information to the campaign.

That's right, text short codes. Because armed with a phone number, the campaign instantly knows nearly everything they'd need to reach out to potential supporters to solicit donations as well as remind them to vote in primaries and, eventually, the general election — from voter registration status to address, contribution history to demographic data. Obama isn't the social network candidate, he's the American Idol candidate.(Photo from Steve Jurvetson)