January 11, 2011, REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Omidyar Network and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) today announced an equity investment in SeeClickFix, the developer of technologies that enable citizens to report and monitor non-emergency issues in their local community. The investment reflects both organizations’ belief that technology can scale programs that foster meaningful engagement among citizens, their local government and others in the community. It is Omidyar Network’s first for-profit investment in its Government Transparency investment area and OATV’s first investment in a Gov 2.0 initiative.
Through its Government Transparency investment area, Omidyar Network invests in organizations that use technology and media platforms to provide access to information and tools necessary for citizens to participate in the governing process and hold governments to account. Over the last two years, the firm has granted over $30M to organizations such as Code for America, the Project On Government Oversight and the Sunlight Foundation.
“Omidyar Network is deeply committed to furthering the use of technology platforms to engage citizens on issues of importance to them,” commented Stacy Donohue, director of investments at Omidyar Network. “The SeeClickFix team has created a powerful platform that can have significant, tangible social impact. They’ve created a scalable, low-cost way to turn citizen frustration into participation and engagement while strengthening community bonds.”
O’Reilly Media, a general partner of OATV, works to promote greater government openness and citizen participation through its events, books and online. The Gov2.0 Summit, co-presented by O’Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb, brings together the creators and innovators, citizens and government leaders who are building ‘government as a platform.’ Tim O’Reilly, CEO and founder of O’Reilly Media, said: “Now is the time for government to reinvent itself, to take the old idea of government ‘for the people, by the people and of the people’ to a new level."
Mark P. Jacobsen, managing director at OATV, will join the SeeClickFix board of directors. “SeeClickFix is poised to bridge citizens into governments which have traditionally offered limited channels of communication,” said Jacobsen.
SeeClickFix provides online and mobile platforms that empower citizens, community groups, media and local governments to care for and improve the country’s neighborhoods. It was founded on the belief that citizens who take the time to report even minor issues and see them fixed are likely to become more engaged in their local communities. Started in New Haven, Connecticut in 2008, SeeClickFix now has millions of viewers and has logged tens of thousands of reports. The service is accessible online, via Blackberry, iPhone and Android mobile platforms and widgets found on media partner websites such as the Washington Post, Gannett, SFGate, Philly.com and Boston.com.
“SeeClickFix has grown faster than we could have imagined and the platform’s ability to connect neighbors and resolve local problems is benefitting communities of all socio-economic backgrounds across the United States as well as some locations internationally,” said SeeClickFix founder and CEO Ben Berkowitz. “In the past year, SeeClickFix has seen more and more governments adopting the citizen platform as their primary online engagement tool. The funding provided by OATV and Omidyar Network will enable us to continue to capture the market we are helping to create. Capital will be used to enhance the existing SeeClickFix smartphone and web platforms as well as increase sales and support to our current and future media partners, government clients and users.”
About O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures
O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) is a seed-stage venture capital fund located in San Francisco. OATV is in the business of funding disruptors, innovators and hackers of the status quo. OATV takes a cash efficient approach to seeding and growing businesses which creates a natural alignment with the entrepreneurs it funds. In addition to capital, OATV brings a depth of operational experience and industry relationships to amplify the efforts of its portfolio companies.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $383 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile technology and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.