In the beginning:
In 2001, a trusted Democrat insider and computer savvy Mark Sullivan asked computer guru, Steven Adler, to partner on an effort to design and build a brand new, cutting-edge voter database for the Democratic State Party in Iowa. Sullivan would build the Microsoft Access front end, and Adler would build the web-based interface and the data engine to hold it all together.
“It grew by word of mouth only, without a single salesman or a dollar spent on advertising.”
This first system in 2001, hosted in Adler’s basement, was named Voter Activation Network. The ability to do everything needed from a user’s browser across internet made the Access Front End seem superfluous, and so it was decided several weeks into the project to discontinue the Access Front End and work exclusivity as a dedicated web based application. It broke all of the rules of what political software was thought to be up to that time. VAN was simple and fun to use, fast, open, and constantly pushed the envelope of election technology and voter databases. VAN’s reputation quickly grew, and states began calling and coming on board with their services. Adler and his tech team constantly improved the system, and Sullivan couldn’t keep up with the phone calls of inquiry and sales. Led by Adler’s technology, and Sullivan’s reputation among liberals, VAN offered a number of the first and best technologies in the industry, such as a micro footprint, web based barcode system, and volunteer activation, allowing any and all candidates and their volunteers within the Party to participate in and contribute to the campaigning process. What’s more, the system created a single, unified voter database among the entire state – while still preserving the privacy of each campaign using the system.
After just a few short years, VAN was the campaign system used by most Democratic State Parties in the US. It grew by word of mouth only, without a single salesman or a dollar spent on advertising. Not long after that, the Democratic National Committee, who were aggressively supporting their own proprietary voter contact system known as “Demzilla,” realized that they couldn’t build a better system than VAN. In 2007, the DNC announced that they were officially switching over to the VAN system for ALL party campaigning across the United States. The VAN system, re-branded as “VoteBuilder,” was now the single, unifying technology used against all the Republicans in all 50 states (and now, internationally).
The VAN system proved that it was, indeed, an enterprise-class, unified database for Democrats across the entire nation. VAN continues to grow, still based on the core originally developed by Adler. “Inc. Magazine” ranked VAN, now NGPVAN, as one of the fastest growing companies in America.
VAN, and the database it gave birth to, known as “CataList,” was credited with being “Obama’s Secret Weapon” for the 2008 Presidential election. (See video below.) With over 1,000,000 users across the US, Karl Rove even took note and agreed.
VAN (NGP VAN) is today, the largest political software company in the world.
In this 1/2 hour news show, VAN co-founder, Mark Sullivan, is credited as building “Obama’s Secret Weapon.”
OK, but what about rVotes? . .
In 2005, VAN cofounder Steve Adler, who was not a registered Democrat himself, sold his half of VAN and cleanly severed all business relationships with the company he co-founded. Adler sold his interest in VAN, but negotiated his ability to retain 100%, non-exclusive ownership of the codebase and product he had created. The catch – he had to wait five years before making it available for use.
Adler continued to work in technology, and quietly continued improvements and development of his “codebase” during the five years, keeping it current, and improving functionality and security. After honoring his non-compete clause, rVotes LLC was born on January 1, 2010.
As of January, 2010, Adler’s latest creation of the VAN system, “rVotes” – is based on the proven core system of the Democrats’ immensely successful VoteBuilder, but is now available for tech savvy, Center Right efforts who still have no tools to compete with the Left’s VoteBuilder.