Applecart, the cutting edge data and analytics firm that uses proprietary social graph technology to make advertising campaigns smarter, is bringing on a new President, Joe Shafer, to help spearhead a major expansion of the firm’s bipartisan politics and advocacy division. Shafer is coming off his role as the head of the Democratic Governors Association’s (DGA) independent expenditure arm, where he managed a budget of $74 million and helped flip seven Republican governorships, including crucial victories in states Donald Trump won in 2016. Prior to that Shafer helmed Gov. Tom Wolf’s monumental 2014 primary and general election victories in Pennsylvania.
“It’s rare in politics to find cutting edge data and technology combined with the big picture strategic acumen of what it takes to win—that’s Applecart. In these polarized times, that unique approach is the winning edge in tough campaigns,” Shafer said.
“Joe is one of the nation’s top political strategists, unique in his long record of running and winning high-stakes campaigns in places where victory was highly improbable. He is exactly the kind of sophisticated operative that we were looking for to lead our politics and advocacy business and ensure that we continue our record of running innovative, winning campaigns on behalf of our growing number of political and advocacy clients,” said Matt Kalmans, Co-CEO of Applecart.
“Joe was instrumental in my election as Governor, managing a flawless campaign in 2014, and has been a trusted advisor since. His strategic abilities will be a tremendous asset to Applecart and any campaigns and causes fortunate enough to work with him,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
Based in New York, Shafer will take the reins of Applecart’s politics and advocacy division which has grown significantly in each of the last two cycles since the firm was founded in 2013 by Matt Kalmans and Sacha Samotin. The division tripled in revenue from 2016 to 2018. At the same time, Applecart has grown to a nearly 50-person company, backed by top technology investors, including global entertainment giant William Morris Endeavor, with CEO Ari Emanuel joining the company’s board, Aspect Ventures, and top engineering executives from Yelp and Twitter.
Applecart began as the brainchild of then-University of Pennsylvania classmates Kalmans and Samotin, who shared a mutual frustration with the inability of candidates that shared their values to win elections during a polarized time. Together they leveraged findings from academic field experiments run in political campaigns to develop the idea for their core offering, the Social Graph, which uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to mine publicly available data to identify online and offline social relationships between Americans. In the time since, Applecart has since mapped over 17 billion relationships between more than 250 million Americans and has been deployed as the analytics engine behind the highest stakes advertising campaigns of major politicians, corporations, and advocacy groups.
In 2016, Applecart used its innovative technology to help the cash-strapped campaign and Super PAC supporting Gov. John Kasich’s presidential bid efficiently persuade and mobilize the voters that carried him to a surprise second-place finish in the New Hampshire Primary. This unique approach was featured by Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab, in Bloomberg Businessweek and on Bloomberg TV. Since then, Applecart has supported dozens of leading political and advocacy campaigns and independent expenditure efforts at all levels of government, including those of Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in his successful 2018 special election, major corporations like Boeing, and several of the largest bipartisan education reform organizations in the country.