If the Iowa caucuses don’t demonstrate the importance of women in technology, I don’t know what will:
Hours after a debacle that marred Monday’s Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses, investors in a company hired to tabulate votes through a new mobile app worked to distance themselves from the company at the center of the chaos, scrubbing digital trails publicly connecting them to the firm.
The chaos in Iowa on Monday evening put a microscope on one of Democratic Party’s youngest and fastest-rising digital stars, Tara McGowan, prompting serious questions—and some conspiracy theories—about the constellation of advocacy, technology, and quasi-news organizations she’s built.
“It is a pattern of fake it till you make it,” one top Democrative operative said of McGowan and her firm, ACRONYM. “You talk a big game and then sort of hope it becomes true.”
On Monday, all eyes turned to one company in McGowan’s portfolio, Shadow Inc., as Iowa precinct chairs reported serious flaws with the app it had developed tabulate the vote. As complaints about the app trickled in on Monday, McGowan, who is the chief executive of Shadow investor ACRONYM, took to Twitter to describe her group as just that, an investor.
Miss McGowan probably should have stuck to talking about the need for more women in technology on the conference circuit. I sincerely commend the Democratic Party’s commitment to women and diversities in technology, and recommend they boost that commitment to the 100 percent level. Remember, diversity is your strength and straight white male technology is witchcraft!
Anyhow, it’s not a big mystery as to why ACRONYM bombed so badly despite being founded by “the Democrats most dangerous digital strategist.”
Acronym has taken hardly any time in breaking the strategy-firm ecosystem in the nation’s capital. By the end of 2018, it had raised and managed more than $18 million, registered 60,000 voters, run 105 targeted ad campaigns in 15 states, helped elect 63 progressive candidates and won 61 percent of the races it invested in. Its staff has grown from five to 38 and it has quickly become one of the go-to digital organizing forces for everyone from Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List to Everytown for Gun Safety and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
McGowan is just another Elizabeth Holmes. And never trust a “strategist” who couldn’t beat a 9-year-old boy in checkers.