Welcome Barney, Mark & Emily

Welcome three new additions to the Brigade family: Barney, Mark and Emily!

Barney Govan: Director, Engineering

BarneyBarney comes to Brigade via a long and circuitous route through diverse fields such as professional video, Internet advertising, and social networking. He worked at Sony, Yahoo!, Quantcast and others along the way. Most recently, he was at The Hunt, a social e-commerce startup, where he built a real-time recommendation system and data streaming infrastructure. Barney recently completed a master’s degree in statistics (in his spare time) and had no life. Since then, he’s been spending time running in the East Bay’s beautiful regional parks. He also can play Radiohead’s “Creep” on the ukulele, which sounds much more upbeat than the original.

Mark  Cooper: Software Engineer

MarkCMark originally hails from The Lone Star State though he lacks an accent. While there, he acquired a degree in computer engineering from the University of Texas and a love of BBQ. Mark joins Brigade from a number of years at Quantcast where he honed his expertise working with big data building tools to process the company’s many petabytes of data. Throughout his career, Mark has worked on semiconductor manufacturing equipment, a development tools company, search engine software at AltaVista and a network equipment maker. When he’s not writing software, Mark spends his time hiking, biking, traveling and chasing his small children. When he has time, he also enjoys working on geeky projects for Burning Man.

Emily Seip: Executive Assistant

EmilySEmily is a San Francisco native who joins Brigade from Mayor Ed Lee’s office, where she was the assistant to the Mayor’s Budget Director. Prior to that, she drafted legislation for the U.S. House of Representatives in a nonpartisan office on Capitol Hill where she moved immediately after graduating from UC San Diego. Outside of work, Emily enjoys cooking, yoga, rock climbing and spending time with her husband, their adorable mutt, Bear, and her family, all of whom reside in San Francisco (all in the same zip code, no less!).


Want to work with Barney, Mark, Emily and the rest of the Brigade team to help put people back at the center of our democracy? We’re hiring!

Meet Our Summer 2015 Interns

Brigade Summer Interns 2015

It’s summer in San Francisco and our inaugural class of interns have rolled up their sleeves and are hard at work across Brigade’s Engineering, Product and Communications teams. Say hello to Hillary, Leo, Stephanie, David and Garrett!

Hillary Do
School/Year: Harvard College, ‘17
Major: Social Studies and Computer Science

Q: What projects are you working on at Brigade?
I work with the product management team on projects that will help an individual define and act upon his/her civic identity on Brigade. My favorite part of the internship has been working with the extraordinary people at this startup. While each has their own political views, unique talents and favorite board game, everyone cares deeply about the mission and vision of the company.

Q: What do you hope to take away from your experience at Brigade?
I hope to gain a better understanding of what motivates people to be civically engaged and how we can make the engagement process easier.

Q: Do you have any “hidden talents”?
I do a pretty good warthog impression and can type 113 wpm.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Brigade <3 …and Black Milk Tea Boba.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating?
I considered becoming a K-Pop star, writing for Last Week Tonight, and Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District. I haven’t ruled out any of the above, but perhaps there’s a future at a place that begins with a B, ends with an E and rhymes with “upgrade.” :)

Leo Lin
School/Year: University of Massachusetts-Amherst, ‘15
Major: Computer Science

Q: What projects are you working on at Brigade?
I have been working on the “request an invite” feature for our private beta as well as backend administrator tools. Recently, I’ve been working on the data team to audit our data pipeline. My favorite part of the internship is the opportunity to meet amazing people (and the food, honestly).

Q: What do you hope to take away from your experience at Brigade?
A better sense of what I want to do in life and the knowledge and skills to pursue my dreams.

Q: Do you have any “hidden talents”?
I am pretty awesome cook and bartender. Also, I sing pretty well.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Tea.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating?
Impact our world, and travel the earth. Also, I want to become really good at fencing.

Stephanie Tsai
School/Year: Stanford University, ‘15 (BS), ‘16 (MS)
Major:  BS – Mathematical & Computational Science; MS – Computer Science

Q: What projects are you working on at Brigade?
I’m currently developing a model to predict which topics on Brigade (i.e. education, government, etc) a user is most interested in so that we can present him or her with more relevant positions. Even though I’ve only been here since mid-June, I feel really comfortable at Brigade. As someone who is pretty shy, that’s not something that is the norm for me, and I’m really glad that I chose to intern here! The free food is also a great perk.

Q: What do you hope to take away from your experience at Brigade?
I’m really excited to to be able to learn from the data team and gain the experience of working at a small, early-stage company.

Q: Do you have any “hidden talents”?
I’ve played the cello since I was seven, and I play in large ensembles and do solo performances. I mostly play classical music, but sometimes dabble in other genres.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
My cello! My friends might be a close second.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating?
I hope to work for a tech company where the product directly impacts users and makes the world a better place (Brigade)! I also want to continue teaching cello and performing.

David Hua
School/Year: University of California-Berkeley, 2017
Major:  Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Q: What projects are you working on at Brigade?
I work with the Android team on implementing various features and fixing bugs to get the application ready for production. My favorite part of the internship has been meeting and talking with all of the incredibly talented and friendly people at the company. Everyday, I learn about something amazing that someone at this company has done.

Q: What do you hope to take away from your experience at Brigade?
Beyond gaining technical and real-world experience, I hope to also take away life-long connections and friendships.

Q: Do you have any “hidden talents”?
I’m really good at getting squirrels to follow me and training them to do small tasks (like open boxes, climb on ramps, jump across platforms) — almost like a squirrel whisperer.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
The outdoors — I really enjoy going on adventures and hikes whenever possible.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating?
I hope to travel and explore the world, and maybe get some meaningful employment somewhere.

Garrett Allen
School/Year: University of Virginia, 2016
Major/Minor: Commerce/Politics

Q: What projects are you working on at Brigade?
I’m working on developing Brigade’s college ambassador and outreach program, as well as creating partnerships with national high school and collegiate organizations. I’ve enjoyed learning from the communications and marketing team and being given a large amount of responsibility and autonomy over my own projects.

Q: What do you hope to take away from your experience at Brigade?
I’m learning a lot about marketing, communications, strategy, and product management. It’s been great to see what goes into the creation and launch of a new consumer product in addition to the hard work that helps Brigade’s user base grow.

Q: Do you have any “hidden talents”?
I play the alto saxophone and snowboard with the UVA ski and snowboarding team.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
I couldn’t live without my family, friends, and puppy.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating?
I hope to work in corporate or business development for a technology company.

If you want to join the Brigade team, we’re hiring! Click here to see our job listings.

Tips to Improve Your Brigade Beta Experience

It’s been an amazing first week and we’re thrilled that our beta testers have already shared nearly a million positions and reasons, and invited thousands of friends to join them in discussing some of the most important issues facing our world. Here are some tips that we hope will improve everyone’s experience on Brigade as the community grows.

Inviting Friends

Brigade is a social place and it gets better when you invite friends to see how you compare on important issues. We’ll be adding new ways to ask people to join you (including friends who are not in your Contacts) but for now during our invite-only release: iOS users, tap on the ticket icon in the top left corner and select those who you want to invite. Android and web users, you can invite friends by clicking on the “+” button on the home screen and selecting “Invite friends.”

Writing Compelling Content

We know that some topics can get you fired up. That’s why it’s important to create your own positions and leave reasons explaining why you agree or disagree with issues. Positions are short (110-character) statements about which someone can agree or disagree. iOS users: Go to your activity feed, select the pencil icon at the top of your screen and pick an issue category. Android and web users: Click on the menu icon in the top left corner, select your activity feed and and click on the “+” icon in the bottom right. Reasons help you support your argument. They can be longer than positions and can include links. Start typing in the box that says “Why do you agree/disagree?” after you’ve written a position or after you’ve taken an existing position.

Changing Your Opinion

Yes, we know how it goes. You tapped “Agree” or “Disagree” on an opinion but then you had a change of heart — or you were convinced by a reason someone left — and you now want to switch your position. iOS and Android users: Tap the position you want to change and go through to the reasons then “…” in the top right corner. In that same drop-down menu, you can hide your opinion or report a position. Web users: Click into a position then click on the three dots in the top right corner.

Building Your Supporter Base

Think of your supporters as your allies — they’re the people you may align with across a range of issues. You can find more supporters by clicking on the people icon in the top right corner of your activity feed. Select “Supporters” at the top, and then click “Recruit more” at the bottom of the screen to view a list of people you can support. If you want more supporters, toggle over to the “Supporting” tab and click “Support more” at the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve supported more people, you can go back to “Supporters” and ask them to support you. The best way to build your supporter base is to create and share great content.

Controlling Email & Notifications

While some of you like waking up to a dozen notifications from your Brigade supporters, others may prefer a little less buzz. You can set your push notifications and email preferences by logging into your account on Brigade.com on your computer or mobile web browser. Click the menu icon in the top left corner and choose Settings. Soon you’ll be able to adjust notifications within the iOS and Android apps, too.

Got questions or comments? We love your feedback. Email us at support@brigade.com!

Democracy Starts When You Take a Stand

About a year ago, we announced our intention to create an easy, effective, and enjoyable way for people to declare their beliefs, organize with others and take action to shape the policies and elections affecting their lives. Since then we’ve been assembling a world-class team and building and testing technologies that can help us begin to fulfill that mission. We’ve gained valuable insight from hundreds of experts in politics, technology, advocacy and academia — and now we want to learn from you.

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Today Brigade is rolling out the first in a series of tools for iOS, Android and the web as an invite-only beta. It’s a place to express what you think about important issues, and see where your friends and others stand. We’ll release about a half-dozen more tools over the next year or so and we believe the 2016 campaign cycle will be a pivotal proving ground for our philosophy that technology can change democracy.

Debate, discussion and discourse are building blocks of a functioning democratic system so our first tool will enable you to:

  • Weigh in on important topics, including issues in the news
  • Write your own opinions and poll friends
  • Find out which friends and neighbors align with you, and on what issues
  • Add reasons for why you agree or disagree with opinions
  • Share your opinions across other social networks
  • Get matched with issue-oriented campaigns based on your interests
  • Build your own civic network and express what you believe in

Future releases will include tools for members of the Brigade community to start their own groups with like-minded friends and neighbors and take action, as well as some experiences around elections that will help citizens vote in line with their values. We’ll also roll out new tools and analytics for our campaign partners so they can turn their supporters’ voices into real influence in the political process.

We hope you’ll become a founding member of Brigade by requesting an invitation at brigade.com and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you already have an invite code, click here and ask 10 others to join you. Sharing your opinions on things you care about is more fun with friends!

— The Brigade Team

P.S. If you share our bold and ambitious vision and want to join our team, we’re hiring!

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Welcome Alex, Yuliya & Barr!

We’re stepping into summertime with three incredible additions to the Brigade team!

Alex Manuel: Software Engineer

1  Alex joins Brigade from Gracenote and where he developed a variety of Android applications including a music recognition app and a TV remote control app demoed at CES 2015. Prior to Gracenote, he built and maintained a mobile backend system for delivering real-time sports data at a startup that was later acquired by Yahoo. As part of the Yahoo Sports mobile team, Alex developed his sports data system into one of the largest and fastest mobile backend systems for providing real-time sports scores and statistics. In a previous life, Alex was a guitarist in several bands in the New York City area, including a show at the famed CBGBs. He changed career goals and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked on several political campaigns including Kerry 2004 and Obama 2008. When he’s not coding, Alex spends time with his wife and two daughters. He still plays a lot of guitar and recently taught himself to play the banjo.

Yuliya Popova: Content Manager

Yuli5ya comes from Flipboard where she managed hundreds of media titles, curated news and feature magazines and nurtured a community of millions of users. Yuliya’s background is in journalism, which means she’s good at asking questions and knowing there are always two sides to the story. You can find her bylines in the BBC, the New York Times and in many publications across Europe. Yuliya’s mysterious accent comes from Ukraine (where she was raised), the U.K. (where she studied journalism) and Australia (where she often traveled for sunshine and adventure) — but then she discovered San Francisco and never looked back. Yuliya can’t imagine her life without biking and reading. If she’s not with a book, she’s on a bike, pedaling all over the Bay Area.

Barr Yaron: Growth Manager

Barr 3grew up in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, and she’s excited to explore the intersection of modern politics and technology from the West Coast. Barr recently graduated from Harvard with a degree in Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics. She started her career investigating all three fields at eBay Research Labs, where she worked as a data scientist and researcher. Barr’s previous research experiences include the Technion, Wharton, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Engineering, and the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House. Now she’s looking forward to delving into analytics in the civic tech space. Outside of research, Barr also has experience working in finance at Goldman Sachs, organizing conferences for women in STEM, and teaching introductory computer science and math classes.  In her free time, she loves to dance, teach Zumba, travel and paint.

Want to work with Alex, Yuliya, Barr and the rest of the Brigade team to help put people back at the center of our democracy? We’re hiring!

‘Disrupting Democracy’ with Rand Paul

Voter participation in America has been steadily declining for the last 50 years and the 2014 midterm election marked the lowest point since the 1940s, but advances in social technologies offer promising opportunities to reverse this trend. At Brigade, we’re hard at work building tools that will allow people to declare their beliefs, organize with like-minded individuals, and take action to shape the policies and elections that affect their lives locally and nationally.

But as we seek to do that online, it’s important to orchestrate offline conversations about issues that matter. Throughout the 2016 campaign cycle, our company wants to help facilitate that dialogue and offer a forum for political leaders of all persuasions to engage directly with citizens. To kick things off, our CEO Matt Mahan will participate in a conversation with Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci on Saturday, May 9 at an event sponsored by technology and policy think tank Lincoln Labs.

“Disrupting Democracy: Growing a New Generation of Voter Engagement” will address strategies and tools that can increase voter and overall civic engagement among Americans, particularly millennials — an attractive target for Republicans and Democrats alike. “Millennials are better informed, better connected and more exposed to news,” in a wider variety and deeper form, than their parents ever were, Mahan told the Chronicle in an article published Thursday. But there’s “a skepticism or even a cynicism problem,” he said, with many millennials doubting that “their vote is relevant or impactful.”

Click here to learn more about Saturday’s sold-out event and follow along on social media at #DisruptingDemocracy. Click here to read Marinucci’s full story, Political Parties Targeting Elusive Voters — Millennials.

Is Silicon Valley the ‘Epicenter of Social Change?’

Last week, as CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff sparked a headline-grabbing debate over “religious freedom” laws in Indiana and Arkansas, our CEO Matt Mahan was asked by a reporter whether Silicon Valley, with all its wealth, prosperity and economic power, had become “the new Hollywood” for organizers of social causes.

He based his answer (that the balance of power is shifting and tech leaders are increasingly playing a bigger role in the political system) on the fact that Silicon Valley and the technology industry as a whole has captured the cultural zeitgeist of the moment. This digital revolution has been a long time coming and is starting to reshape people’s everyday lives, largely for the better.

Read Matt’s subsequent column in The Huffington Post here.