Big Money

Stewarding Sunlight projects into the future; Mark Zuckerberg sets sights on curing disease—all of them; and more.


  • Tech and politics: Donald Trump raised more money from small-dollar donors (people giving less than $200 each) in August than Hillary Clinton, according to the latest FEC reports, Jonathan Swan reports for The Hill. He’s still well behind her in terms of his investment in staff and technology usage.

  • Related: This story about Clinton’s failure to build an online fundraising “juggernaut” like Barack Obama or Bernie Sanders, by Jonathan Martin of the New York Times, offers more than the usual amount of insight into Clinton’s fundraising operation. Just 24 percent of her donors are in the under-$200 bracket (43 percent of Barack Obama’s were in 2012). The problem is that having built her political career through a deep national network of high-dollar bundlers, she has to service it continually. “She’s invested heavily in the infrastructure of human beings: finance directors across the country, photo lines and donor-circle membership,” said Scott Goodstein, the founder of Revolution Messaging, an online Democratic fund-raising firm, told the Times. “Now they’ve got to play that out.

  • This comment in that same story from Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the DailyKos blog, a hub for grassroots progressive Democrats, is also quite astute: “[Bernie] Sanders certainly proved that if you focus all of your energy on the voting public, that core supporters will reward that love with real money. Instead, Clinton’s campaign still seems stuck on the old model of never-ending high-dollar fund-raisers. As a result, she looks secluded and out of reach, further reinforcing the notion that she cares more about the wealthy than regular folks.”

  • Speaking of longtime political bloggers, remember Glenn Reynolds, the University of Tennessee law professor who writes the Instapundit blog? His Twitter account was suspended yesterday after he tweeted “Run them down” along with an image of protesters in North Carolina on Interstate-277, who were blocking the highway in response to the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte.

  • This is civic tech: If there’s any silver lining to the news that the Sunlight Foundation is winding down, starting with the shutdown of Sunlight Labs, it’s the fact that the organization was always committed to open source creation and licensing of all the products it built. Its director, Kat Duffy, explains here how she and her colleagues, plus some Sunlight alumni, will work over the coming weeks to find stewards for those products and tools, aiming to ensure that they remain “available to everyone freely and equally in a useful format.”

  • There’s a new $15 million fund for civic-tech startups called Ekistic Ventures being launched by two veteran Chicagoans, David Speilfogel, a former top aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Brett Goldstein, a former chief data officer for the city, John Pletz reports for Crain’s Chicago Business. Ekistic’s strategic partners include former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Tim O’Reilly, and Anne Milgram.

  • Speaking of money speaking: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan want to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century,” Leo Kelion reports for the BBC. They’ve pledged $3 billion over the next ten years toward that goal. “This is about the future we want for our daughter and children everywhere,” Zuckerberg and Chan said in a joint statement. “If there’s a chance that we can help cure all diseases in our children’s lifetimes, then we will do our part. Together, we have a real shot at leaving the world a better place for our children than we found it.” No word on whether they’re planning to spend anything on preventing climate change first.

  • Related: Here’s a photo of three people who together are worth $140 billion.

  • Do hackathons for refugees help? That’s the question Tin Geber of The Engine Room wrestles with here. Starting with the fact that “they’re just really bad at actually creating things,” he argues that it would be far better to just give refugees better access to the internet and to electricity.

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