From Yahoo to the RNC: Republican hire an old Internet hand

It wasn't that long ago that the Republicans under Karl Rove were shaking up political waters with a database-heavy strategy of micro-campaigning. It's quite a sign of the times that the Washington Post leads off its Q&A profile of Cyrus Krohn with the statement that, "Republicans are trying to catch up with Democrats online.

It wasn't that long ago that the Republicans under Karl Rove were shaking up political waters with a database-heavy strategy of micro-campaigning. It's quite a sign of the times that the Washington Post leads off its Q&A profile of Cyrus Krohn with the statement that, "Republicans are trying to catch up with Democrats online." Krohn recently left Yahoo, where he was directing election strategy, to become director of the RNC's eCampaign department. A true-blue techie, Krohn has also worked at Slate and MSN.com. He says his emphasis hasn't changed, although the culture has.

I come from the tech world. I bring a different perspective to the table. What's happening on our Web site, GOP.com? What are the implications in terms of user behaviors?
It's also a change because his job at the tech companies was to be politically agnostic. Now the lifetime 36-year-old Republican can shake off the reins of objectivity.
My job at Yahoo was to be politically agnostic, and I did a good job of it. I've worked with the Hillary Clinton campaign. I've worked with the Barack Obama campaign. But in reality, I was spending a disproportionate amount of time helping the other team. One day I said to myself, "If I'm going to be a political operative in what is really a politically agnostic job, I should be a political operative for the party that I hold true to my heart."

The party is recognizing that with 180 million people online, the Internet is a rapidly growing campaign medium.

The Web should be informational and educational, but it can also be entertaining at the same time. A lot of times, during the course of people's days, they're looking for a reprieve but they're also looking for information. How do you combine the two? I found that there's somebody on our staff who's an illustrator, a cartoonist, so now we have cartoons on our site. And games, too, like our Show of Hands online game. We uploaded them on our Facebook page.

Interestingly, he plays down the value of social networking and seems chiefly interested in portal approaches. He is not only a tech guy but a portal guy, it seems.

My history with the Internet is with the portal space, with MSN and Yahoo. So to me, the question is, why are we focused on three or four sites and a list of blogs when we still need to figure out the value of portals in the political process? Yahoo Groups, for all intents and purposes, was the original MySpace.