Public Democracy is a mission-driven company with over a decade of experience building communities to advance the common good. We got our start in political communications and organizing and succeeded where others had failed by listening to the communities we were tasked to mobilize and persuade. We understood that the best way to get people to engage was to understand what mattered most deeply to our audience and provide them with something of value.
This understanding served us well as we expanded our focus from politics into broader advocacy, entertainment, and community building. Our strategy of seeking to shape our engagement offering to meet our audience’s needs — as opposed to merely pursuing ways to get our audience to meet our own needs — allowed us to rapidly expand our reach and effectiveness.
As the volume of engagement and the amount of data we collected grew faster than we could have hoped, we shifted our focus to build and develop proprietary data tools to help us manage campaigns and further improve engagement opportunities for our users. These tools have evolved over the years into a powerful resource, and our values and behavioral database (and the predictive behavioral models that grow from it) are now Public Democracy’s most significant asset.
From our earliest days when we began by storing our data in maxed-out Excel spreadsheets, we anticipated a time when computers would have the processing speed to put that data to use. From the beginning, we recognized the value of data as a ledger of historical actions with the power to create new insights that could help shape the future in meaningful ways.
We understand that each data point represents a moment when we connected with a real person — where their willingness to engage provided a glimpse into their values, hopes, and sometimes fears. Every engagement recorded in our database reflects a point when a person believed that something we were offering them could make a difference and that their participation could matter.
That is a precious resource, a loadstone with great enough value to businesses, political leaders, and social institutions that they would bend toward the intent of the tens of millions of people who built it as those institutions sought to harness its value. We have known for many years that we could sell our data for a large profit, but we believed that the paths to realize that revenue would undermine the data’s true commercial value and not reflect the purpose of the users who generated it.
We believe that the market is shifting in ways that allows for a more fully realized value of psychometric and values-based data like ours along with an acceptance of those of us who believe we need to better steward these resources and treat the individuals data represents as partners, rather than products. This shift, combined with a move in corporate space toward more attention to brand over product and the increasing recognition of the need for businesses to consider their stakeholders, rather than merely their shareholders, has convinced us that the time is right to explore ways to open our data up to a curated and broader use.
We see a bright future ahead as we seek to firmly establish our approach to data and business in the broader marketplace and further develop our values-based models and audience segments. As we do so, we will also continue to explore the unique capabilities of the blockchain as a way to stake the value of our database into a tokenized ecosystem built to trade a new currency of engagement as a new tool for empowering people and democratizing the use of data and more justly sharing the benefits of its creation.