With his red beard and gauged earrings, Harper Reed doesn’t look like a prominent force in President Obama’s world. But back in 2012, Reed was hired as the chief technical officer for Obama’s re-election campaign.
While working there his major responsibility was controlling Project Narwhal, which got voter information to Obama campaign workers from across the country.
He had never done anything like that before, but knew he could do the job, he writes in a new post on Medium.
Why? “I attribute that confidence to my experience as a hacker and the subsequent willingness to take risks,” he writes. “If you never break through that wall of doubt, you will never see what might’ve been possible.”
Harper started hacking early on in his life, finding a gateway to forbidden knowledge in pre-Internet Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). He got in trouble for helping a classmate find a copy of the “Anarchist Cookbook” — which the classmate promptly used to blow up a $US20,000 haystack.
Harper says he has never stopped thinking about himself as a hacker. And he says that’s where his whole career started: those bulletin boards, the concept of breaking in somewhere.
And Harper hasn’t just broken into the political world. He held the job of CTO of the online clothing company, Threadless form 2005t to 2009. Currently, he’s CEO at the e-commerce startup Modest.
But no matter where he goes, Reed credits hacking culture with guiding his path. “It seemed like the world was somehow brighter, the greens were greener,” he writes. He was never going back.