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Obama Campaign Office in San Francisco Focuses on Tech

Campaign's technology field office hopes to draw Bay Area tech volunteers


Between the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole and President Barack Obama, the love and admiration are mutual. Obama has come to visit three times in the past six months--most recently on Feb. 16, 2012--where he has raised funds for his re-election campaign at private, $38,500-per-plate dinners at the Atherton villa of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and the Pacific Heights home of Nicola Miner (daughter of an Oracle co-founder) and novelist Robert Mailer Anderson, and at a $35,800-per-person meeting with top executives from tech companies like Salesforce. But besides availing itself of the financial riches of local start-ups, the presidential campaign wants to tap the brainpower of the Bay Area nerd-force by opening a first-of-its-kind technology field office.

What better choice for a technology office location than the high-technology capital of the U.S., if not the world? Twitter, Salesforce, Storify, Razorfish and Instagram are among the firms with headquarters or major offices in SF, and Facebook, Google, Apple, Cisco and other tech giants are within commuting distance. The Obama tech field office, at a spot in San Francisco that has yet to be disclosed, hopes app developers, social networkers, website designers, code writers and software engineers will volunteer for the Obama for America campaign. As the campaign's deputy press secretary, Katie Hogan, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "We learned from 2008 that using the talents and skills of our supporters was a key to building the most effective organization."

"We're taking the next step by providing tools and space for supporters in the technology community to help the campaign extend our current tools, like BarackObama.com and our mobile applications," Hogan said.

At least initially, the tech-focused campaign office will be staffed by one paid employee, who will recruit and oversee volunteers. Working there would seem to be ideal for socially awkward techies who might prefer Internet, software and tech gadget troubleshooting over the people-interaction that comes with conventional campaign duties like door-to-door canvassing and phone calling.

Internet Prez Obama

Among politicians, and particularly among U.S. presidential candidates, Obama has been an early adopter of technology. Using the Internet to collect small donations from hundreds of thousands of people and building a huge presence on Facebook (including Facebook pages created by fans), Twitter and YouTube, Obama's 2008 campaign developed and ran on its unbeatable grassroots power, and he became known as the first Internet President.

He has become the Social Media President, too.  In just the past few months, Obama has started a Google+ page and joined Instagram, a photo sharing app, and the social blogging platform Tumblr. Obama for America released its official 2012 campaign playlist (which includes Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Noah and the Whale) on the Spotify music streaming service. And the campaign will be accepting contributions via Square's mobile credit-card reader.

Just wait a few weeks, and it'll probably have photos on Pinterest.

To help out at the Obama campaign's new tech field office in San Francisco, e-mail techvolunteers@barackobama.com.

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