RNC launches tech startup to ramp up digital outreach

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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The Republican National Committee announced a major new digital endeavor Tuesday designed to take the lead in securing votes with all the resources of the digital age.

Para Bellum Labs, translated from Latin as “prepare for war,” is the RNC’s most aggressive attempt to-date at emulating the grassroots-style digital campaign strategy employed most effectively by Democrats in recent years.

The RNC’s personal in-house tech startup will combine the committee’s data gathering and analysis with what they hope will become a vastly improved digital marketing arm. The first primary focus of Para Bellum Labs will be to recruit tech specialists to lay the groundwork in programming and engineering.

“We will fully participate in the open source community and earn the respect of the people we need to hire,” chief data officer Azarias Reda said in a statement Tuesday. “When it comes to recruiting top talent, our competition isn’t the Democratic Party — it’s the Facebooks, LinkedIns, and Googles of the world. We’re pushing the envelope by building products to win elections while creating a young and engaged image for the Republican Party.”

President Barack Obama won two national elections with Democrats’ breakthrough tech-based data gathering and appeal — identifying, targeting, appealing to and organizing voters digitally like never before. The Obama campaign set individual campaign donation records and secured voter turnout among select groups not seen in decades, or ever.

“The RNC has a role to lead on data and digital for the good of the party from the top of the ticket down,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”

A new marketing video released along with the announcement shows how the RNC is trying to use the same idealistic appeal employed by Democrats to attract talent and inspire innovation.

“The cool thing about this is the fact that I am literally working to elect the next president,” one recent hire remarked in the video. “You can go try to work on the West Coast and potentially make a cool app, or you can actually physically change history.”

Para Bellum Labs is looking to capture the pop-culture tech-startup appeal made popular by Silicon Valley giants like Google and Apple, opening up the floor plan of its colorful first-floor office, covering the walls in screens, graphics and dry erase boards, filling it with the hottest devices and encouraging a younger, trendier dress code.

The RNC wants hires to feel the freedom of a tech startup, guaranteeing creative freedom with what it hopes will be the added bonuses of idealism and a solid stream of funding.

“Para Bellum Labs is something that has never been done before — top talent to power elections for the good of the entire Republican Party,” chief digital officer Chuck DeFeo said “By setting clear goals and hiring talented people, I am confident we will keep propelling our Party forward to win elections in 2014, 2016 and beyond.”


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