Political Animals

Political Animals

Mayoral Candidates Sound Pretty Skeptical of Regulation-Skirting ‘Disruptors’

The candidates. (Jukay Hsu, via Instagram)

As New York City considers its options for mayor, Silicon Alley is biting its nails at the prospect of a post-Bloomberg world. And last night, four candidates–former councilman Sal Albanese, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, comptroller John Liu and former Bronx president Adolfo Carrión–appeared at the Museum of the Moving Image to pitch themselves to the tech industry, in a forum organized by the Coalition for Queens. (Front-runner Christine Quinn declined to show.)

And, well, they gave it the old college try. Read More

Political Animals

Mark Zuckerberg’s Stealth Political PAC Is Reportedly Raising $50 Million

Happy Holiday$! (Photo:

The Wall Street Journal has unearthed more details about the Silicon Valley political advocacy group first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Mark Zuckerberg–fresh off his fundraiser for Republican governor Chris Christie!–is working on launching the group, along with his close friend Joe Green, a former Harvard University roommate. Mr. Green was previously involved with and and is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz. (As we noted last fall, founder Marc Andreessen himself contributed exclusively to a number of Republican campaigns, after previously supporting Clinton-Gore.)

But the tech and Republican connections don’t stop there. Read More

Political Animals

Every Tech Tangent President Obama Went Down During Last Night’s SOTU


Despite Anonymous’ worst intentions, the State of the Union went off without a hitch last night–save for reducing the state of political discourse to water gulping memes. Every generation gets the joyless Twitter account it deserves, we suppose.

President Obama has relied heavily on technological innovation to get him reelected, and is fond of citing the industry as a potential source of economic growth. But this is the first SOTU where tech got real air time at the podium. Chances are that will only increase.

Here’s hoping, next time around, the tech bubble won’t be invoked in the same grim paragraph as the housing market. Read More

Political Animals

The State Department Sidles Up to Silicon Valley


On her way out of the public sector last Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran through a spate of last-minute initiatives, including the Alliance for an Affordable Internet, which seeks to expand Internet access in developing countries where a mere 25 percent of the population (on average) is online.

Although the public-private partnership between the State Department, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel, and the World Wide Web Foundation “barely got a mention” at the podium, it warrants closer examination, argues Bloomberg Businessweek. Read More

Political Animals

Mark Zuckerberg Will Host a Fundraiser for Republican Gov. Chris Christie in His Palo Alto Manse [UPDATED]

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If you’ve ever wanted to check out the “music alcove” in Mark Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto pad or dip a toe in his salt water pool, next month might be your chance. Buzzfeed reports that Facebook’s CEO is hosting a fundraiser at his 5,000 square ft. home to raise money for Republican Governor Chris Christie’s reelection.

Back in 2010, Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Christie, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker famously graced Oprah’s couch to announce the billionaire’s carefully-orchestrated $100 million donation to Newark’s public school system. They’ve continued to work together on that education initiative, “earning the praise of reformers, and ruffling teachers unions.” Read More

Political Animals

New York Techies Want Campaign Finance Fixed

Paging Mr. Cuomo! (Photo:

A coalition of techies say it’s time to do something about our campaign finance morass, and they’re starting with New York State. A veritable who’s who of Silicon Alley–including Fred Wilson, Andy Weissman, Dennis Crowley, John Borthwick, Kevin Ryan, and Esther Dyson–have released an open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging him to take point on an effort to make the political process work a little more like Kickstarter or Github.

The problem, as they see it: “Today, elections in Albany are dominated by a small group of affluent campaign donors, professional influence-peddlers and deep-pocketed vested special interests.” Not to mention some of those state capital buildings are downright Politburo-back-deal chic. Read More

Political Animals

Voting Machine That Changed Obama Vote to Romney Vote in Viral Video Taken Out of Service

(Screenshot: YouTube)

A video taken of a touchscreen voting machine in Pennsylvania refusing to capture an Obama vote, and instead casting the vote for Romney, was uploaded to Reddit this morning. The video garnered almost 37,000 upvotes and served up a painful 18 second flashback to post-2004 fear of “stolen votes.” After hitting Reddit, the video immediately went viral, ricocheting across news websites and Twitter feeds. Read More

Political Animals

Heads Up, Instagrammers: It’s Actually Prohibited in New York (and Many Other States) to Share a Photo of Your Marked Ballot

Fierce. (Photo: Tumblr)

The Instagram army is out in full force today, smartphone drones snapping pics of every step of the democratic process, from the long polling lines to the braggadocious “I voted” stickers. But here’s a helpful PSA for anyone voting in New York state: those cutesy Instas could actually (technically) land you a misdemeanor.

According to Think Progress, sharing a ballot (or a photo of a ballot) after you’ve marked down your choice could actually be against New York State voter laws. NY Election Law 17-130 reads that a citation is in order for any person who “shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents, or solicits a voter to show the same.” The Citizen Media Law Project confirms that “photos or filming of own marked ballot” is prohibited. Read More

Political Animals

Welcome to the Peer Pressure Election: Brought to You By Social Media

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Former Observer senior editor Foster Kamer wrote in Lil' B for State Assemblyman

Finally, FOMO is being used as a force for good: redirecting the narcissistic tendencies enabled by social media to peer pressure you into voting. In theory, it’s a net positive for the country. In practice, however, it’s really clogging up your feeds. Pics (or Instagrams, tweets, Foursquare check-ins, hashtags) or it didn’t happen. Not to mention that in some states–including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada and Texas–it’s illegal to Instagram your ballot.

Between the obligatory first world problems tweet about cold fingers while standing outside the polling station, to amateur hour punditry on Facebook, the public displays of patriotism are relentless, self-righteous, and, most importantly, gloriously non-apathetic. Go ahead, express your political sensibilities. All the cool kids are doing it. Read More