At the center of the Iowa caucus chaos lies the little-known, “shoestring” app developer, Shadow Inc., now made infamous for its role in producing the app that would eventually torpedo Monday’s results.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Shadow employees represent an eclectic mix of tech specialists and former Hillary campaign staffers, as well as some with no connection to either the tech industry or politics. But, as Fox News reports, what may be lesser known is that the company was launched by a non-profit investor named Acronym.
Acronym receives copious amounts of funding, in the ballpark of $250,000, from New Venture Fund, a group founded and run by a former member of Bill Clinton’s administration, Eric Kessler.
Kessler founded New Venture Fund, as well as its managing firm Arabella Advisors, less than two decades ago. As Fox reports, Arabella in particular is known for financially pressing its thumb on the scale on controversial issues, often muddying the distinction between philanthropy and progressive agenda items and using the companies within its orbit to do so.
As a for-profit consulting company, Arabella Advisors manages an array of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits to which it has funneled billions over the last decade, half a billion in 2017 alone.
Last year, the conservative watchdog organization known as Capital Research Center conducted an investigation into Arabella Advisors, determining that “it is impossible to know which organizations subsidize the various campaigns and political movements spawned by Arabella’s funds.”
“Following the money” can sometimes be a confusing endeavor, and here is no exception, given the fact that the money, harnessed by a former Clinton campaign official, had to “pass through” three different vehicles before arriving at Shadow. Still, the funding has raised eyebrows, especially given the fact that the Democratic establishment has made its disdain of the field’s progressive candidates fairly obvious, and the fingerprints of past Democratic officials seem to be all over Shadow Inc., from its inception to its funding.
In developing and testing the app, it seems various corners were cut – from low funding to insufficient testing. Neil Haldar, Principal of HALDAR+CO, an app consulting firm, told the Wall Street Journal that normally, a company conducting a project of this nature would spend at least $150,000 to $200,000 in order to construct a no-fail or “mission-critical app.” Shadow received collectively just over $120,000 from the Iowa Democratic Party and the Nevada Democratic Party to build the app. According to the Wall Street Journal, Halder found it “very unusual that Shadow was still completing the app the weekend before the Iowa caucuses.”
Recent reporting also reveals that officials at the Democratic National Committee had been made aware of several issues experienced by the app right before its usage on Monday. Apparently, the Iowa Democratic Party still opted to employ the app anyway, despite knowing of such red flags and after turning down security testing by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
It will be interesting to watch if Shadow manages to get its act together in time for the Nevada caucuses, which are slated to take place in less than three weeks, but nonetheless, it’s worth noting some of Shadow’s shadier connections.