June 8, 2011, 11:10 AM

An e-retail veteran takes a top tech post in Obama’s campaign

Harper Reed, formerly of Threadless.com, becomes chief technology officer for Obama 2012.

Lead Photo

Harper Reed

Obama 2012, the campaign organization working to re-elect President Barack Obama, has named an e-commerce veteran as its chief technology officer. Harper Reed held the same job for Chicago-based T-shirt e-retailer Threadless.com from 2005 to 2009 and joined the Obama campaign in April.

Since leaving Threadless, Reed has worked with several technology-oriented startups in advisory roles, including private equity firm Sandbox Industries and web hosting firm Rackspace Hosting.  

Reed’s experience at Threadless could serve as good preparation for a political campaign post. At the e-retailer, he helped to drum up consumer participation in the product development process. Threadless relies on its consumers to submit original T-shirt designs which the e-retailer’s fans then vote on. The designs with the most votes are manufactured and sold on the site.

As chief technology officer for the Obama reelection bid, Reed says his responsibility is to use technology as a “successful force multiplier within the campaign,” according to a statement. 

Threadless.com founder and chief strategy officer Jake Nickell says the e-retailer is excited that Harper has joined the Obama campaign and is looking forward to seeing what he does there. “There’s no one else like, or as amazing as Harper,” he says. “His friendly, excitable demeanor complements his massive, tinkering brain in a way that is impossible not to love. We can’t wait to see what crazy technological innovations they come up with as the campaign progresses.”

The Obama campaign kicked off in April and is already making frequent use of digital technologies, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The campaign web site and social media pages pose the question: “Are you in?” and encourage Obama’s more than 21 million Facebook fans to persuade their friends to join and donate to the campaign.

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