MAGA MAGIC?A financially troubled startup firm helped energy Trump reelection marketing campaign

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SAN FRANCISCO — President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection marketing campaign was powered by a cellular phone app that allowed workers to observe the actions of his tens of millions of supporters, and provided intimate entry to their social networks.

Whereas the marketing campaign could also be winding down, the information technique may be very a lot alive, and the digital particulars the app collected might be put to a number of different makes use of — to fundraise for the president’s future political ventures, stoke Trump’s base, and even construct an viewers for a brand new media empire.

The app lets Trump’s crew talk instantly with the two.8 million individuals who downloaded it — greater than another app in a U.S. presidential marketing campaign — and in the event that they gave permission, with their total contact checklist as nicely.

As soon as put in, it may observe their conduct on the app and within the bodily world, push out headlines, fundraise, promote MAGA merchandise and sync with mass texting operations, based on the app’s privateness coverage and person interface.

But the enterprise software program firm that constructed a device to propel Trump’s mass motion is in monetary misery and has acquired key assist from the administration and the president’s marketing campaign, based on interviews with former workers, monetary filings and courtroom paperwork.

Austin-based Phunware Inc., whose inventory is buying and selling for pennies, lately agreed to pay Uber $4.5 million as a part of a settlement over claims of fraudulent promoting and earlier this yr risked being delisted from the Nasdaq. In April, the corporate acquired a $2.9 million mortgage beneath the Coronavirus Assist, Reduction and Financial Safety Act because it was constructing the Trump marketing campaign app.

Marketing campaign watchdogs and former workers alike marvel at how a struggling startup recognized extra for constructing apps for hospitals and a Manhattan-based astrologer grew to become a juggernaut in Trump’s reelection bid, facilitating an ongoing knowledge and fundraising effort that threw the corporate a monetary lifeline.

Whereas exercise on the app slowed lately, the enriched knowledge it gathered on Trump’s supporters, which may embrace the whole lot from their contacts to their IP addresses to their places, can serve many functions going ahead, stated Adav Noti, a former Federal Election Fee lawyer now with the nonpartisan Marketing campaign Authorized Heart.

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