Entrepreneur, Social Media Pioneer, Political Hacker
Hi, I’m Jamie Tedford. Class of 1991, University of New Hampshire. Political Science major, Kappa Sigma brother, Freshman Camp Counsellor.
After graduation, I applied my talents and savings to returning constituent mail and surfing the free food happy hour circuit on Capitol Hill. Finding myself disenchanted with the two party system and mainstream candidates for the 1992 Presidential Elections, I answered a Meet the Press shout out from a straight talking, chart drawing Texas billionaire, organized 200 volunteers and got candidate H. Ross Perot on the ballot in the District of Columbia in 24 hours. I became an early Perot staffer and so began my love/hate relationship with policy, personalities and politics.
Seeking refuge from the DC’s swampy environs and the echoing words of Admiral Stockdale “who am I, why am I here?” I moved back to Boston where I quickly got swept up in the “dot-com bubble” and it was glorious. A group of us 20-somethings built college loyalty startup Student Advantage to a $1Billion valuation and a high flying IPO. Then a funny thing happened while waiting out the lockup of my fortunes, the bubble burst and I was broke again. Easy come…
Again looking for safe harbor, I joined Arnold Worldwide to make ads for some great brands like VW, Jack Daniels, and Ocean Spray. The irony in spending seven years here was that I didn’t really believe ads, at least the kind we were making, actually worked. There had to be a better, more honest and transparent way to influence people’s decisions, right? With visions of scaling water-cooler conversations, I became a founding board member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. I couldn’t have known then that word of mouth marketing would be my gateway drug to a full social media addiction served up just across the river in Cambridge at a new startup called The Facebook.
With three kids, a mortgage and looming recession, I decided to scratch my entrepreneurial itch and bootstrap a company with the mission of using social media to connect brands to networks of fans who like, maybe even love them. Brand Networks was born over a bar called Lucky’s in a shabby neighborhood that would later become prime real estate of Boston’s Seaport. With some luck and pluck, we became a strategic partner to Facebook, driving revenue and managing brands through the peaks and valleys of advertising to people, not pixels. Social media advertising floodgates opened and we rode the wave with Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat. Ten years, two hundred employees and many grey hairs later, I sold a stake in Brand Networks to a private equity firm, and began the search for my replacement to navigate for the next leg of BN’s journey.
With too much time on my hands and some money in my pocket I jumped into the resistance movement with both hands on the keyboard. Like everyone paying attention, I witnessed the weaponization of social media to attack our democracy. If hostile foreign states and fake news promoters could so easily and inexpensively influence an election