The Internet won the election for Obama, right? President Change's team of online experts are trying to cash in on their expertise. Here are the contenders for the title of "Obama's Web guru."
Thomas Gensemer. Gensemer joined Blue State Digital, a Boston-centered political consultancy founded by veterans on Howard Dean's Internet-powered presidential campaign, in 2005. He'd previously worked as a venture capitalist who backed Blogger and Meetup.com, among others. He's currently touring in Britain trying to drum up business for a newly opened office as "Obama's digital guru."
How much credit does he deserve? "Campaign insiders suggest privately that Blue State has so impressed Obama that, if he wins in November, the company could be in the unique position to play a role inside the White House," BusinessWeek wrote last June. That hasn't happened — which may explain why Gensemer has moved on to London.
Jascha Franklin-Hodge. Blue State's cofounder and CTO, Franklin-Hodge, a Boston computer programmer, led the heavy lifting on my.barackobama.com and change.gov, Obama's transition website.
How much credit does he deserve? The technology Blue State developed, including software which distributed lists of voters for volunteers to call, was key to Obama's operation. Franklin-Hodge deserves a large share of the credit, but as a programmer, he's unlikely to grab it.
Joe Rospars. Another Blue State cofounder and veteran of the Dean campaign who embedded himself in the Obama organization as new media director. Portfolio dubbed him "Obama's tech guru." He served as a spokesblogger and argued that content, not technology, was key to Obama's victory.
How much credit does he deserve? Pop quiz: Can you recall any of Obama's blog entries?
Chris Hughes. The New York Times called Hughes the "Facebooker who friended Obama." A cofounder of the social network who served as Facebook's spokesman in its early days, Hughes left the company in 2007 to join the Obama campaign as its director of online organizing. Hughes operated the tools Blue State built to set up local networks of fundraisers and get-out-the-vote efforts.
How much credit does he deserve? A lot, according to Obama, who told the Times:
One of my fundamental beliefs from my days as a community organizer is that real change comes from the bottom up. And there's no more powerful tool for grass-roots organizing than the Internet.
Hughes was in D.C. for the inauguration, attending Google's inaugural ball, but hasn't gotten — or taken — a job with the administration yet. When we asked about Hughes' role a couple of weeks ago, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro cryptically said, "Nothing for you on that at this time."
Scott Goodstein. A D.C. campaign manager whom the L.A. Times dubbed "Obama's text-message guru." He also built Obama's presence on external social networks, including Facebook and MySpace.
How much credit does he deserve? Obama's Facebook presence had 3 million followers by the end of the campaign. His team also developed Obama's iPhone app. But Obama's attempt to announce his vice-presidential pick via text message got scooped by old media.
Arun Chaudhary. Obama's director of field video production and "video guru" won the "YouTube primary" for Obama, according to Business Insider.
How much credit does he deserve? Obama is now delivering fireside chats on an official YouTube channel — but does anyone really buy the idea that Obama won the election on YouTube?
Joe Trippi. Howard Dean's campaign manager, credited with inventing the modern practice of Internet campaigning.
How much credit does he deserve? In theory? All of it, since the Dean campaign led directly to the founding of Blue State Digital and inspired the operation of Obama's online efforts. In practice? None, since he worked for John Edwards' doomed campaign in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Katie Stanton. A Googler who launched Google Finance before spearheading Google Moderator, an online voting tool that the incoming Obama administration used on Change.gov.
How much credit does she deserve? None, since she had no involvement in the campaign. But she's the one who actually got a cool Internet job in the White House as Obama's "director of citizen engagement."