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[liberationtech] NationBuilder alleges NGPVAN 'harassment'; NGP responds

Yosem Companys companys at
Fri Jul 27 23:31:03 PDT 2012

Does anyone know if a security audit has been done on either NationBuilder


Political CRM Wars Get Ugly: NationBuilder Alleges ‘Harassment’ by NGP

If you have some connection to the online organizing tool
you probably got the email printed below, which alleges “harassment” of the
company’s political customers by rival NGP
NGP’s response to the NationBuilder email is beneath, and see also Steve
Ofner’s “what a CRM is and isn’t”
by progressive criticism of NationBuilder over its contracts with

NGP VAN harassment of NationBuilder customers

I hate having to send this email, but we are getting numerous reports that
NGP VAN is both lying to and bullying some of the Democratic candidates
using NationBuilder. This is appalling, and we want to make sure our
customers know the truth.

They are saying that your data is not secure and more specifically, that we
give it to your opponents. This is utterly ridiculous. You own your data.
You can export it, import it, and share it with whoever you want, but we
will never give it to someone else. Ever. Our entire company and
infrastructure is set up to preserve your data’s integrity.

Some of you are also receiving threats from NGP VAN and being prohibited
from importing your data into NationBuilder. I’m so sorry you are being
treated like this.

 I started NationBuilder to make the tools of organizing accessible and
affordable to everyone<>.
There are two things you can count on from me and the NationBuilder team:
we will not rest until we have fulfilled our mission, and we will always be
honest and forthright with you.

If you are being bullied, please know that this pressure is *not* coming
from the Democratic Party. It is coming from NGP VAN, a corporation trying
to preserve their monopoly on a market with anti-competitive and unethical
behavior. We encourage you to contact your state party, and if that gets
you nowhere, call us. We can give you access to voter data for free, and
you can use all the money you’ll save to rent vans and get your voters to
the polls.

Jim Gilliam

more about our data and privacy policies:<><><>

And now, the response from NGP VAN’s Stu Trevelyan:

It appears NationBuilder wants to manufacture a fight with NGP VAN,
possibly as a means of marketing NationBuilder. NGP VAN is in good company
in being attacked by NationBuilder’s CEO, Jim Gilliam. Recently, when the
Netroots Nation ED called for a Democratic boycott of NationBuilder because
of NationBuilder’s new contract with the Republican State Leadership
Committee, Gilliam told him to “stop lying about us”. When a Democratic
NationBuilder consultant blogged that they could no longer use
NationBuilder because of the Republican contract, Gilliam wrote, “Shame on
you.” To a person who asked if Gilliam would feel guilty if Republicans won
as a result of NationBuilder help, he wrote, “You’re insane.” When
TechPresident covered the Democratic boycott, and Jim didn’t like the
coverage, he attacked the reporter as “exactly what is wrong with political
reporting.” And he’s attacked partisan firms Salsa Labs and Blue State
Digital also.

My mother taught us to deal with these sorts of situations by contacting
the other person directly; Jim did not attempt any contact with NGP VAN.

Had Jim done so, we would have explained to him that NGP VAN is not in a
position to threaten or prohibit anyone from taking data from VoteBuilder
and importing it into NationBuilder. The state Democratic parties own the
voter files and distribute VoteBuilder access. It is true that the state
Democratic parties and all the Democratic candidates in their states
benefit from the collaborative data structure of VoteBuilder, and therefore
there is a rationale for all the Democratic candidates using it.

It is also true that since NationBuilder has a contract to provide
thousands of anti-gay, anti-union, anti-women, anti-immigrant Republicans
with their software, any dollar, idea or feedback provided by a Democratic
or progressive client to NationBuilder does in fact go towards improving a
tool that is being used to defeat Democrats.

Is it coincidental that Jim is creating this dustup during the same week
that TechCrunch, Mashable, ClickZ, and others covered the launch of our Social
Organizing tool <>? For which
NationBuilder lacks equivalent functionality? Perhaps.

It’s 100 days until Election Day. Every minute NGP VAN spends addressing
NationBuilder’s baseless accusations is a minute we’re unable to dedicate
to President Obama’s re-election and Democrats running for office
everywhere. We’re going back to work to elect Democrats.

Let’s see how this one pans out. Competition is good for the political
organizing market; outright conflict, not as much.

– cpd <>
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