He is known as the co-founder of Napster and for his roles at Facebook and Spotify, but now tech billionaire Sean Parker is tacking a new venture — politics.
No, he's not running for president. Instead, Parker is attempting to change the way we talk about politics, with the goal of increasing participation through a new political debate app called Brigade.
Last fall, Parker invested several million dollars into the startup to back the app, and joined Brigade CEO Matt Mahan (former CEO of Causes) and a team of engineers on their quest to boost civic engagement among millennials.
"We want to make our democracy more vibrant, more participatory, and more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens," said Mahan. "The way we can do that is by helping people come together to declare their beliefs and values, get organized with like-minded people, and take action together, directly influencing the policies and the representatives who have an impact on the issues they care about."
Brigade is the first app to let people find friends who support the same political issues. Users on this social network can express their opinions, enter discussions on news and politics, poll their friends to see where they stand on specific issues and join campaigns.
Once a user downloads the app, they're presented with a stack of cards that include statements on issues such as the belief that medical marijuana should be legal. The user can then agree or disagree with the statement. If the user is not sure where they stand, they can flip through reasons for and against a topic. Once the user takes a position on a specific topic, they can see a polling chart that shows the percentage of users who agree or disagree with them.
The overall goal of Brigade is to attract more people into political discussions. According to beta users, they might just be on the right track. There are currently 13,000 users in the private beta, with the average user taking 90 positions. A user's political profile is built with every position they take. The network then compares that profile against others, allowing people to find users who share the same political ideologies.
The app can also help convert users to their side of a political debate. If a user does change another user's mind on an issue, they will receive social credit for the conversion.
The team plans to release around half a dozen more tools over the next year, just in time for the 2016 political campaign. These tools will include the ability for Brigade users to start their own groups for taking action, and election experiences that will help citizens vote.