Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Lerer Ventures Hires an Obama Electioneer to Run Its Incubator

ashley arenson emogoIf you worked on Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, you got to spend the end of the year basking in praise for the tech-savvy operation’s exploits.

Then you had to get a new job. So Ashley Arenson moved from Chicago, where she spent a year-plus as Obama for America’s “Director of Integration and Innovation,” to New York, where she’s now general manager at Soho Tech Labs.

Soho Tech Labs is Lerer Ventures’ in-house incubator; the notion is that the investment firm will use it to play with ideas that could become companies at some point, using a limited amount of capital.

So far, Labs has hatched Rebel Mouse, a buzzy publishing system that lets people and brands create a “social front page”CasaHop, a social travel company that shuttered yesterday; and Emogo, which hasn’t launched yet but has something to do with avatars (that’s Arenson’s Emogo up right).

Arenson says Labs is working on several other projects, and her task is to help would-be entrepreneurs get their projects in shape to ship, and raise a bona fide seed round. And to help connect them with the incubator’s resources, like a board that includes BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and a tech team that’s scattered around the world.

The role is similar to the one she had at the campaign, she says, where she worked as a conduit between its technologists and veteran politicos. “Day in and day out, the job was to identify challenges, and identify people who could help me solve them,” Arenson says. That’s a nice summary of startup life, too.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald