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Causes.com Platform Sold And To Be Shutdown

By Patrick Sullivan - June 11, 2014

Causes.com, the Facebook inspired campaign platform for advocacy and fundraising, will soon be no more.

Brigade Media has acquired a controlling stake in Philotic, Inc., the company that owns the Causes. The creation of Brigade, a new effort by Silicon Valley wunderkind Sean Parker, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and others, was announced earlier this year with a $9.5 million investment from Benioff, Parker and angel investor Ron Conway.

Causes, which began life as a Facebook app in 2007, split off from the social network in 2012. It was one of the original 10 Facebook apps and the longest-lasting. According to a blog post on Causes.com, the platform has 186 million users and has helped to raise more than $48 million for nonprofits since its inception.

“Causes.com and campaigns built on the platform will continue to function for now, however the Causes brand and technology will eventually be retired,” according to an announcement by Brigade. A Brigade spokesperson said there is no timeline for the retiring of Causes, but said, “For now, people will still be able to interact with existing campaigns and create new ones.”

“Acquiring Causes, which was focused on the nonprofit space, adds the unique expertise needed to build an infrastructure powerful enough to elevate the voices of citizens and improve the relationship between elected officials and their constituents,” wrote the Brigade team on a blog.

Also included under the Philotic banner is Votizen, a political advocacy platform that Causes acquired last year. Votizen co-founder Jason Putorti will be Brigade’s vice president of design. Votizen, a social network centered around voters, was rolled into Causes upon its acquisition.

Causes CEO Matt Mahan will become CEO of Brigade, and vice president of revenue James Windon will be Brigade’s president. Parker, a co-founder of Causes and Napster and Facebook’s founding president, will step down as Brigade’s interim CEO but remain as chairman.

“The Causes and Votizen executives who are joining the Brigade team bring a unique understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with civic engagement and advocacy,” said Parker. “Their technical experience and expertise gives us a massive head start in tackling a tremendous challenge.”

Votizen seems to track with Brigade’s mission to “serve as a tool to empower people civically, enabling any person to engage with their representatives in a way that is easy, social and enjoyable,” according to Brigade’s post. Brigade has reportedly been tight-lipped about the nature of its product, but news reports speculate that it could attempt to connect constituents and elected officials on a social network. The product is expected to launch in 2015.

Terms of the deal have not been made public. Some Philotic employees will be laid off. “Because Brigade has a different mission than Philotic, not all employees will be joining Brigade,” said the spokesperson. “As we ramp up, we’re looking for the right mix of engineers, product designers and political strategists who share our vision to build an easy, effective and enjoyable platform that brings political power back to the people.”

“The kind of problems we have — poverty, childhood hunger, violence against women — only get solved when a community of people band together,” said Marnie Webb, CEO at Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup Global in San Francisco, Calif. “We’re eager to see what Brigade Media has planned and think the integration of Causes can help them start off with the critical mass required to truly make an impact.”

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