Keen On… The Cave: What Silicon Valley Can Learn From The 2012 Election

Who says that the Beltway always lags behind Silicon Valley? In The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies, his best-selling book about Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign, veteran political journalist Jonathan Alter writes about “penetrating” The Cave – Obama’s top secret digital command center. Run by the campaign’s Chief Analytics Officer, the 30 year-old whiz Dan Wagner, The Cave was staffed with an eclectic group of number crunching geniuses including a bio-physicist and three professional poker players.

What The Cave achieved, Alter told me, is “marriage of technology and shoe leather,” thereby making 2012 the first real “big data election” (the Republicans, of course, didn’t get it). And it was Dan Wagner’s highly sophisticated big data operation, Alter insists, that separated the Obama and Romney campaigns. Indeed, the Cave was such a remarkable success, Alter says, that Silicon Valley has much to learn from its implementation. Eric Schmidt’s close relationship with Wagner is well known. Less well known, Alter says, is the need now for all companies to invest in a Cave of big data experts who can enable their businesses to “connect better”. It’s the new way of reaching customers, he says.

So does your company have a Cave yet?