June 15, 2011

Votocracy looks to shake-up 2012 presidential race, recruits Average Joes to campaign online

John Cook


Think you’re better equipped to run for president than Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? If so, Votocracy wants to give you a shot at the White House.

The Seattle startup, led by former Microsoft vice president Bryan Lee and former HomeGrocer.com CEO Terry Drayton, has developed a new social media platform where any U.S. citizen (with a passion for politics and $99 to spare) can toss his or her hat into the race.

Candidates compete on Votocracy to win support of “voters” in online primaries, raising funds from fans and sharing their views through video messages and other online techniques.

Then, after 51 state primaries are concluded, the company says it will host a nationally-televised reality show to pick the top candidate. Votocracy, which is tightly integrated with Facebook, writes:

…Presidential candidates don’t need deep pockets, years of political experience or notoriety – they just need the drive to compete and a passion for change – and a political platform to elevate their visibility.

Let’s face it, how we nominate and select a president is broken. Is this the way to fix it?

The concept is a bit like King of the Web, the Seattle startup backed by Rich Barton, Nick Hanauer and others. On that site, individuals utilize social media tools to compete for bragging rights online, also known as “King of the Web.” Votocracy is doing much the same thing, just for those who think they can run the country.

Lee previously worked as an entertainment executive at Microsoft, overseeing the company’s efforts in music, television and video. While Lee said hat King of the Web offers a decent example of crowd sourcing, he said the similarities stop there.

In his view, Votocracy is “creating a movement in the way the average American” participates in the political conversation.

“And while we are harnessing social networks to generate participation, Votocracy is taking the concept to the next level by incorporating a nationally-televised reality show to uncover ‘America’s Next Presidential Candidate,’” he said.

Details on the TV show are not yet available, with Lee saying they are currently in conversations with “many of the top television networks.”

Lee declined to disclose how much the company has raised to date. But a filing last month with the SEC indicates that it raised $600,000 of a $1 million round, listing Lee, Drayton and Remerinc CEO Dave Remer as executives.

Here’s a closer look at Votocracy, but in the meantime let us know what you think about the concept?


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