Prairie Portrait: Matt Barr of VoterTide
Name: Matt Barr
Bio: Born and raised in the Midwest, I've been looking for and solving big computing challenges for about eight years now; some of them even resulted in a paycheck. When I'm not designing/coding/pretending I know what I'm doing in the linux shell I enjoy travelling, the outdoors, politics, sports, sushi or arguing about any of the above.
Title: #1 Top Engineer (We change it at a whim, I think my pay-stub says "Technical Officer") at VoterTide
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "No Church in the Wild", by Kanye West and Jay Z feat. Frank Ocean
Silicon Prairie News: What led to your decision to join the team at RockDex?
Matt Barr: The offer fell into my lap at the right time and in the right way. I had gained general software lifecycle and project management skills while working at Kiewit, and when I moved on to LeaseTeam I was working with some of the best developers in Omaha. When approached about RockDex, I had absorbed a lot of know-how from the team I was on and was ready to build something no one had seen before.
SPN: With the presidential debates on the horizon and just more than a month until the election, what does VoterTide have up its sleeve for the homestretch?
MB: First, we’ve got some interesting news features coming up. Our joint coverage of the national conventions with The Post shook things up quite a bit in that world; we’ve had to consider how to handle the volume of inbound calls we’re getting from media outlets looking for something innovative. Second, we’re pushing aggressive pricing for campaigns. Finally, look for some compelling new features to come out of beta this month.
SPN: How would you characterize the primary differences between musicians and politicians when it comes to their needs and concerns related to social media monitoring and analytics?
MB: With RockDex, we had trouble demonstrating enough value in a mature industry that was seeing declining revenue. I liken it to door-to-door Kirby sales to households that have suffered a layoff — no matter how clean the house is after the demo, they’re not buying the vacuum. Campaigns, PACs and NPOs have bigger budgets every year, and they’re looking for a place to spend those other than TV. If you’re looking to inform or move public opinion, social has to be a part of your strategy.
SPN: What are a couple computing challenges you solved that didn't lead to a paycheck but led to satisfaction or a feeling of accomplishment?
MB: My favorite example is a command line app that looks up metadata (artists, dates published, etc.) and then organizes new music and movies I add to my computer collection. It’s a simple thing, but I’m not kidding, the first time I saw it spit out the locations and new file names it had moved my media around to, it felt like watching a son hit his first home run.
SPN: Time to bend your mind and fuse your hobbies. Say you're using one of your interests (traveling) to indulge in several others (the outdoors, politics, sports and sushi). What are your destinations for trips centered on those four interests, and why?
MB: I’d have to hit up Bolivia for some of the best canoeing and camping you can find in the Andes. After that I’d love to visit Egypt and grab a Stella with some locals and talk about their revolution (most likely, they’d be having a cola, but that could make them better travel guides and keep me out of trouble). I think I’d skip right over Japan and head to Huntington Beach, Calif. for the sushi and cap it all off with a Broncos game on the way home.
Credits: Photo by Angie Helseth.
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