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A Look Back, Launching A New Washington Post Property: WhoRunsGov

January 25, 2009

Last Thursday, January 22, we (at MindTouch) helped launch a new Washington Post online property named WhoRunsGov. This launch was particularly satisfying for me both personally and professionally and causes me to reflect on the past.

I’ve rallied for transparency in government and for freedom of access to information since I was a child. Yes really, since I was a kid. I was bit of a radical and read a lot of political manifestos in addition to Huxley, Orwell, Machiavelli, etc… and I was a Lennon “wannabe”. All well before puberty. Case in point: I was eleven years old during the Iran-Contra scandal and I had a rehearsed satirical rant about Oliver North. Needless to say I was pretty well misunderstood by my peers.

For obvious reasons, WhoRunsGov caters to my desire for transparency in government. In addition to the superlatively authored profiles the site hosts I’ve also lobbied the smart people at the Washington Post to leverage open APIs; such as those provided by the Sunlight Foundation, an organization I’ve been tracking gleefully since its conception. Thankfully with MindTouch Deki querying web services is trivial. I’m optimistic the Washington Post will make the right decision in this matter and also in the matter of allowing others access to MindTouch Deki’s extensive APIs.

I’ve been a news junkie from a young age too. Indeed, I began reading the San Jose Mercury, my hometown newspaper, when I was nine or ten years old. The Mercury was then, and still is, one of the best newspapers in the country. I have always immersed myself in news and been keenly interested in media. The Post is breaking new ground with MindTouch technology. This will become even more clear as the property matures on the MindTouch platform. The opportunity to work with one of the most prominent news and media organization has been elating.

I’ve watched the Washington Post with interest as they’ve set a standard for quality and innovation in new media and continued their tradition of exceptional journalism.  As a result I’ve developed a great admiration for the company that reached a new height with the hiring of Rob Curley, who has since moved on to the Las Vegas Sun. While the Post has recently been refreshing their talent pool with a new generation (there have been several high level retirements) it’s exciting to have MindTouch play a significant role in launching and defining a new business unit.

Finally, well shit, I’m a founder and the CEO of MindTouch and we power a Washington Post property. That’s pretty exciting. Newt Gingrich thought so too. I got a call from his office on Friday. Turns out “Newt visited WhoRunsGov” and asked his technical lead to contact MindTouch about a project his office has been working on. More information about the platform and technology that powers WhoRunsGov.

MindTouch has many millions of users. Is ranked in the top ten open source projects in the World. Is the most popular open source collaboration product in the World. Strangely, has an Alexa rank of ~37,000, this is an indication of www.MindTouch.com popularity, which is remarkably high for a young enterprise software company. A massive community of many thousand developers. A large and growing ecosystem around the world of companies employing MindTouch technology to build businesses and new products including: Amazon, IBM Global Services and NEC. MindTouch has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and every technology publication there is. And a long list of marquee customers like: The Washington Post, Microsoft, Intel, US Army, USA Department of Defense, Mozilla, The United Nations, Harvard-Kennedy…. MindTouch Deki turns three years old this July, 25. Astounding. I think back to the early days of MindTouch. I worked from my basement in a rental condo in Maplewood, MN. Or even earlier when Steve and I held regular midnight Monday phone calls to discuss MindTouch while I was finishing my degree at UNC. We’ve come a very long way in a very short time and we’ve done so with remarkably low cost efficiency and without the influence and reputation of folks on Sand Hill Road. The team at MindTouch has a lot to be proud of and it’s already clear our achievements in 2009 will eclipse all years prior.

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