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Shadow's CEO Is Very Sorry For Screwing Up Iowa, But Still Won't Disclose Its Funders

He said that out of all the precincts that had access to the caucus app, just a quarter successfully reported their numbers.

by Paul Blest
Feb 5 2020, 2:32pm

The company behind the app that derailed the Iowa caucus has finally spoken.

Shadow Inc. CEO Gerard Niemira broke his silence in an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday night, as vote totals were still being released from Monday night’s fiasco in Iowa.

“I’m really disappointed that some of our technology created an issue that made the caucus difficult,” Niemira, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, told Bloomberg. “We feel really terrible about that.”

The Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow over $63,000 in November and December 2019, according to campaign finance reports. The purpose of Shadow’s IowaReporterApp was to help “ensure accuracy in a complex reporting process,” according to a statement on Shadow’s website. But a multitude of problems—from poor reception to installation errors—forced many precinct chairs to attempt to report their results via phone, which caused long delays.

The company had been contracted by the Nevada Democratic Party to develop technology for their caucus on February 22, but on Tuesday, the NDP said it “will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus.”

Niemira said that out of all of the precincts that had access to the app, just a quarter successfully reported their numbers. Despite that, Niemira still maintained that his app was basically fine.

“The app was sound and good,” Niemira told Bloomberg. “All the data that was produced by calculations performed by the app was correct. It did the job it was supposed to do, which is help precinct chairs in the field do the math correctly. The problem was caused by a bug in the code that transmits results data into the state party’s data warehouse.”

Little is known about the company except that it was created after the much-hyped progressive nonprofit ACRONYM purchased Groundbase, according to a tweet from ACRONYM founder Tara McGowan in January 2019. But since the Iowa debacle, ACRONYM appears to have decided that it doesn’t have much to do with Shadow’s day to day operations.

In a February 4 tweet, McGowan, who is married to a strategist for the campaign of former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, described Shadow as an “independent company ACRONYM is invested in.”

While Niemira confirmed ACRONYM’s role as an investor, he refused to name other investors or say who sits on the company’s board, according to Bloomberg. We do know at least one member, however: Niemira’s LinkedIn page lists him as the company’s chairman.

Cover: Precinct captain Carl Voss of Des Moines displays the Iowa Democratic Party caucus reporting app on his phone outside of the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

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